One of the environmental problems facing the planet is the availability of resources. Materials like metals and oil are finite. Renewable resources like wood are often harvested at such a high rate that they stop being renewable. Activities like mining and milling the materials requires energy that burns finite fossil fuels to create electricity. One way to help preserve the resources on the planet while reducing the energy used during manufacturing and other industrial processes is to recycle the materials that we already have. Industrial shredders play a significant role in modern recycling.
The production of paper has a large impact on the environment. Even the most modern techniques still require the use of wood pulp, chemicals and other organic materials. The volume of paper that is produced every year drains natural resources. Shredders are able to convert large batches of paper products into very fine particles or pieces that can be treated and then recycled. Recycled paper can be used to produce other paper products or mulch. It is also used as filler in some consumer goods and construction materials like insulation.
Wood is widely used in industry and construction. It is used to build temporary frameworks and to carry cargo when formed into a pallet. Most of this wood becomes waste because it is not needed or because the integrity of the pallet or frame becomes unstable. Industrial shredders can easily reduce pallets and wood construction waste into chips or smaller pieces. This wood is recycled into agricultural products like mulch, paper products or new wood-based construction materials. It is also becoming increasingly popular to use the shredded wood as a refuse-derived fuel (RDF) in power plants. Every piece of wood that is shredded and recycled prevents harvesting of new wood from forests.
Nearly every type of vehicle relies on tires in some way. Tires have been accumulating around the world for decades because they do not decompose, cannot be burned and contain hazardous chemicals. They are also very hard to process initially because of the durability of the rubber. Large shredders have reduced the amount of tires that are being thrown into landfills. The shredded rubber has many industrial applications. It is useful as a RDF. It can be incorporated into asphalt or concrete as an aggregate. The chips are regularly used to create outdoor consumer products like garden edging, rubber paving stones and hoses.
Many consumer electronics can be shredded and then processed. Modern electronics like cell phones, laptops and other devices contain small amounts of precious metals and harmful materials. Using a shredder will break down consumer electronics into small pieces. These pieces are screened and then processed through a variety of techniques in order to extract all of the valuable metals. These metals are then recycled and used in new electronics. This reduces the need to waste energy and labor mining for new sources of these increasingly rare elements. It also prevents harmful metals like mercury from entering the environment through a landfill.
Plastics were thrown into landfills or dumped into the environment for decades. There are entire islands of plastic bottles and products floating in the oceans of the world. Plastic recycling has come a very long way and is currently a profitable industry. Shredders can take plastic waste and reduce it quickly and efficiently into smaller granules that are recyclable. This makes it easy for recycling facilities to feed the plastic into processing equipment without worrying about large pieces that could damage the machinery. Recycling plastics helps to save oil and energy. It also removes the plastics from the environment where they can contaminate the ground and harm wildlife.
Metals that are tossed into a landfill or left in the environment oxidize over time and will eventually pollute surface or ground water. Some metals are very hard to process because of the size, shape or composition of a piece of waste. Shredders are able to reduce the size of metal equipment, automobiles and manufacturing waste into a smaller and more usable form. The small metal pieces are easily fed into re-melting machinery. The pieces are also easily stripped of contaminants before processing. This allows the metal to be recycled more efficiently and reduces the need to create new products from virgin materials.
A major way that industrial shredders benefit the environment is through volume reduction. All items take up far less space after shredding. This means that less fuel is needed to transport materials. Waste that must be placed into a landfill will occupy as little area as possible. Reducing the volume of items like tires, cars and consumer electronics allows better processing of the waste and more efficient reclamation of the base materials.