Vancouver will be the first-ever city to use blue box recycled plastics as asphalt mix on the city's roads, in a move engineers say is a green step forward.
Old plastic milk jugs, yogurt containers and other post-consumer recyclable material will be ground up and made into a wax which then used as a warm mix for asphalt.
"It's actually a lot like crayon wax and what we are doing with this is putting it in the asphalt which we are putting down today," explained Vancouver city engineer Peter Judd at a Kingsway paving site Thursday morning.
For asphalt to be laid properly, it needs an additive to reduce the viscosity, or make the material go down smoother.
This mix makes up approximately one per cent of a typical asphalt batch. The raw cost of the recycled plastic is three per cent higher than typical asphalt mix, but there are significant savings over time, said Judd.
"We are using about 20 per cent less fuel at the asphalt plant than we would otherwise be using so an enormous saving in fuel costs and enormous saving in the green house gases that are associated with that," said Judd.
Judd said the new recycled ingredient also allows crews to apply asphalt on cool days, which wasn't possible before.
The city is piloting the mix in several parts of the city, and Judd said they believe it will be as durable as what's currently used.
The recycled plastic mix is now sourced from Ontario, but the city hopes to produce it locally in the future.
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Reduce, Reuse, And THEN Recycle
People often forget the first two steps in <a href="http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/index.htm">the reduce, reuse and recycle aphorism</a>, but they are extremely important. Try to be mindful of sustainability before you get to the recycling bin. For instance, if you like drinking bottled water, try <a href="http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/product-reviews/eco-friendly-products/reusable-water-bottle-reviews/best-reusable-water-bottles">a BPA-free hard plastic bottle</a> instead of buying a case of disposable ones. Can’t forgo the convenience of disposable? Fill your bottles up a few times before recycling them, or <a href="http://earth911.com/news/2010/07/26/6-ways-to-reuse-plastic-bottles/">reuse them for a cool project around the house</a>. According to the EPA, <a href="http://www.epa.gov/reg3wcmd/solidwasterecyclingfacts.htm">Americans throw away about 28 billion bottles and jars every year</a>, meaning 28 billion art project materials are wasted instead of reused!
Buy Recycled Materials
Another way to reuse is to buy second-hand products, or things already made out of recycled materials. The Mother Nature Network has <a href="http://www.mnn.com/money/green-workplace/stories/recycled-paper-products">a list of great buys made from recycled paper here</a>. Want to save both money and waste? Check out nearby garage sales and thrift stores for cheap, unique goods.
Recycle Your Electronics, Books And Other Things You Never Considered
If you are due for a cellphone upgrade or eyeing the newest computer model, recycle your old piece of machinery instead of letting it sit around. In fact, you can recycle a whole slew of things that sometimes just sit around the house!. Check out <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/03/electronic-recycling-cellphones-cell-phones_n_1846537.html">tips for recycling electronics here</a>, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/13/recycling-electronics-donating-wedding-dress_n_1962300.html">click on this link for creative and charitable ways to recycle</a> your household goods.
Know What You CAN'T Recycle
Getting into the habit of recycling is a great thing, but sometimes items just can’t be reused. <a href="http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/stories/30-things-you-should-never-compost-or-recycle">Check out this list of recycling no-nos from the Mother Nature Network</a>.
Sometimes laziness gets in the way of recycling, but with minimal effort you can make a huge difference. <a href="http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30330043/ns/today-green/t/get-paid-recycle-green-tips-lazy/">The Today Show has some great tips for the passive recycler,</a> including using a power strip to save energy, ditching your magazine subscription for a digital version, and swapping out old DVDs and books for new ones.
Sometimes, the best way to recycle is to barter, swap and share. According to DoSomething.org's Teri Bennett, swapping is a growing movement online, with lots of different options for recycling your belongings. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/25/saving-money-renting-swapping-sharing_n_1543349.html" target="_hplink">Check out her tips on renting, sharing and borrowing here.</a>
Get Paid To Recycle
If the promise of a cleaner Earth is not enough to motivate you, recycling can also make a pretty penny. According to How Stuff Works, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Ftlc.howstuffworks.com%2Fhome%2Fhow-to-get-paid-to-recycle.htm&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNHMpXt4bZfWAE7sCPh26vwwnzL6mg" target="_hplink">you can get paid for recycling cans</a>, electronics, ink cartridges and more!
Pay Attention To Seasonal Recycling
Things like Christmas trees and Halloween pumpkins are great for holiday spirit, but often go to waste after the holiday ends. <a href="http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/5-creative-christmas-tree-recycling-ideas.htm" target="_hplink">How Stuff Works has some great ideas for recycling Christmas trees</a>, and<a href="http://earth911.com/news/2012/10/26/50-tips-for-a-green-halloween/" target="_hplink"> Earth911 has some tips on improving a pumpkin's post-Jack-o-lantern life</a>.
Make Some Art
Some beautiful and creative art projects can come from recycled materials. Martha Stewart has some <a href="http://www.marthastewart.com/359534/recycling-materials" target="_hplink">great ideas for turning your trash into treasure</a>. You can also check out <a href="http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/green-living/7-unconventional-ways-to-recycle/1141?image=7" target="_hplink">Environmental Graffiti's collection of interesting recycled art</a>, or look at<a href="http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-8000/largest-sculpture-made-from-recycled-materials/" target="_hplink"> the largest sculpture ever made from recycled materials</a> (according to Guinness) for some personal inspiration.
Look To The Internet For Help
The internet makes a lot of things easier these days, including recycling. <a href="http://planetsave.com/2011/08/09/top-5-websites-that-make-recycling-easy/" target="_hplink">Planet Save has a list of websites that aid in recycling</a> and bartering, such as <a href="http://Freecycle.com" target="_hplink">Freecycle.com</a>, Selling Bin and Recycle Bank.