Closed loop recycling

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Closed loop recycling
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Closed-loop recycling "occurs when a product is recycled into a product that can be recycled over and over again, theoretically endlessly". A perfect examples to illustrate this process are aluminum cans, because they can be recycled over and over again into the same things - aluminum cans (Vigon B. W. i in. 1994, s. 91).

From an environmental point of view, the closed-loop recycling process is very much needed, albeit many countries do not have manufacturers, by implying it is logistically and economically not feasible (Khan A., Inamuddin, Asiri A. M. 2020, s. 7).

Advantages of closed-loop recycling

There are plenty of benefits of closed-loop recycling, especially for the environment, several are worth mentioning (Hamada Hiroyuki i in. 1998, s. 7-8):

  • materials considered as useless can be reused without cost penalty
  • products do not end their usability in the landfills
  • for manufacturers - the result of closed-loop recycling is recyclate that is a way easier to formulate into a quality part than an original product.

Examples of processes in closed-loop recycling

There are many examples of products that can be recycled endlessly, however, the closed-loop recycling process includes many stages before the product will be able to use again. For example, for plastic like jugs, the stages are as following (Vigon B. W. i in. 1994, s. 91):

  1. grinding
  2. washing and also
  3. remelting.

It should be remembered that every product requires different processes to be recycled. To picture that, consider the example of paper products - the only things that must be done before selling are (Vigon B. W. i in. 1994, s. 91):

  1. repulping
  2. deinking or/also bleaching.

Open-loop recycling

It is worth mentioning, that there also occurs a process called open-loop recycling. The main divergence between above and closed-loop recycling system is the fact, that in an open-loop recycling "a product made from virgin material is recycled into another product that is not recycled, but disposed of, possibly after a long-term diversion". A good example illustrating this recycling system is a plastic milk bottle changed into (for instance) flower pots that are not recycled (Vigon B. W. i in. 1994, s. 91).


Author: Urszula Bochenek