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Recycling Breakthrough

Recycling has been in widespread use since the 70′s.  The first recycling plant in the United States, and according to Wikipedia, the world, was in Woodbury, New Jersey, and opened its doors in the early 70′s.  This started with aluminum cans, as aluminum recycling uses 5% the energy as processing Bauxite to strip those pesky oxygen molecules off of the aluminum.  But this was eventually expanded to glass, plastic, and paper, as everyone knows.

But paper is a pesky little guy in the recycling world.  There’s debate as to how green it really is.  You see, recycling paper uses a staggering amount of water.  To be specific, a recycling plant can commonly use 100,000 gallons of water a day (378 cubic meters for those of you using a real system of measures), which yearly is enough water to raise (or lower in this case) the water level of Lake Ontario a quarter an inch, and that’s per plant.    Now, this isn’t really that bad, because it takes thousands of gallons of water to process freshly cut trees into paper as well.

But that’s all about to change.  A company called ECO2 has come up with a way to bring the amount of water used in the process to near 0.  How can they do this?  Well, they’ve developed a corn based liquid solvent that does what most of the water was used for: removing food and chemicals (think ink) from the paper.  And guess what else?  The corn solvent is biodegradable.  Because it’s corn.  And you know what else?  According to ECO2, using their solvent can cut some paper recycling plants costs by up to 1/3, because of how much cheaper the solvent is than the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.

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