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Jenna McPherson and Connor Schoenl

Dr. Sweigart

Foundations of Engineering

20 March 2017

Operation and Application Essay

In todays society, it is important to manage waste responsibly in order to preserve the

Earth for future generations. Children are taught at a young age to reduce, reuse, and recycle to
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minimize the trash on our fragile planet. These three terms, however, are rarely defined in a way

that children of this age are able to understand. Even as they grow up, they only have a general

idea of all that these terms mean. In short, reducing, reusing, and recycling mean much more

than simply throwing recyclable materials in a recycling bin rather than the trash.

Reduction is the broadest of these three terms. Waste reduction is accomplished in two

different ways: reducing either the amount of waste or the amount of toxins in waste. In reducing

the amount of waste, it can either mean reducing the number of items wasted or reducing the size

of the items that are wasted (Environmental Protection Agency). Although the former can only

be controlled by individual humans, there are many machines designed to aid in the latter. Some

examples of these machines are compactors, balers, shredders, and densifiers. Compactors are

designed to compress large amounts of non-recyclable waste into a smaller volume before having

that waste taken to a landfill. This is most often used by industrial facilities and other businesses

that create large amounts of waste in small amounts of time (Harmony). Compactors are

beneficial because they are able to reduce the number of trips between the facility creating waste

and the landfill, reduce the storage cost of waste, make waste easier to handle when transferring

it from one point to another, and even make businesses look more professional by reducing waste

overflow (ESI). Balers are similar in that they are also used to compact resources, and yet

different in that they are used to compact recyclables rather than waste. These bales of

recyclable material are then easier to store and transport to recycling facilities (Harmony).

Shredders can be both personal and industrial devices. These devices cut materials, usually

paper, into thin, dense strips in order to condense these materials in order to reduce their volume.

This process is also used on personal documents in order to destroy the information on them

(NeoPost). Finally, densifiers are the least common of these devices. They are used to break
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down plastic materials into a sand-like consistency. These machines can be used to break down

many forms of wet or dry plastic and paper products including cardboard, rope, and foam. This

machine works by softening the materials before adding water to cool the material and then

using a motorized blade to chop the material into smaller pieces. The longer the process goes on

for, the smaller the pieces become. Densifiers can be used to reduce the volume of large,

irregular shaped materials in order to make their storage and transport easier (Hercules Machine).

In essence, waste reduction is used in order to make the storage and transportation of different

types of waste more simple and effortless. This in turn reduces the costs of waste storage and

waste transportation for businesses.

Recycling, on the other hand, is a much more complex process overall. It is simply

defined as creating new products from waste, but this is a quite complex process (Environmental

Protection Agency). This process is different for each type of material that can be recycled. For

the process of recycling to occur, people must first bring their recyclable materials to a recycling

center. There the materials are generally sorted by material, color, and many other criteria. Next,

the sorted materials are washed to remove traces of other substances. The processes then begin to

differentiate, with some materials being melted, other materials being added to by other

substances to supplement their amounts, and yet others materials being broken apart or crushed

into tiny fragments. Some materials require more than one of the processes from this step while

others do not require any. Finally, the material is molded into a new material and put back into

the market. Some materials that are commonly recycled in the manufacturing industry are glass,

plastic, paper, and aluminum (Fact Monster). Recycling is used for many reasons. One such

reason is to lower the amount of space needed to accommodate landfills. Another common

reason is to conserve Earths resources for future generations. This is important because
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recycling helps to repurpose materials to create new products and saves more natural resources to

be used later on. Recycling also lowers the amounts of pollution by creating less waste in

landfills. Air pollution is created by the burning of waste and trash can easily be blown from

landfills into bodies of water or even just onto the ground outside of the landfill. In addition,

recycling creates many employment opportunities in recycling facilities. Recycling even

conserves energy because it takes more energy to make a product from raw materials than

recycled ones (Schenker). All in all, recycling is a very beneficial practice for both people and

the environment.

Waste reduction and recycling are two ways to preserve the environment on Earth and

save natural resources for generations to come. By raising awareness and programs for these

concepts today, we keep future humans from having to sift through our landfills to find usable

resources. Although humans still produce more waste than is healthy for the Earth, the fact that

these programs exist proves that we are trying to partake in greener actions in attempt to

remediate our previous lack of concern for the well-being of our planet. Now that the youth of

our world are being taught of the dangers of waste, they will be aware of this issue and will be

able to take action to prevent wasteful actions in the future. In the present, however, we must not

shirk our duty to our planet. We must preserve the Earth to the best of our abilities. And this

starts with us reducing our waste and recycling.

Works Cited

ESI. "Why Should You Use a Compactor?" ESI Waste. EnviroSolutions, 28 Dec. 2015. Web. 19

Mar. 2017.
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Fact Monster. "A Look at the Recycling Process." Fact Monster. Information Please, n.d. Web.

19 Mar. 2017.

Harmony. "What's the Difference between a Compactor and Baler?" Harmony. N.p., 27 July

2015. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

Hercules Machine. "Densifier." Hercules Machine Inc. N.p., 2006. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

NeoPost. "What Is a Shredder?" Neopost. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

Schenker, Alex. "Why Is Recycling So Important?" Earth's Friends. N.p., 10 Sept. 2014. Web.

19 Mar. 2017.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Reduction, Reuse, Recycling and Buying

Recycled." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.