On 18 August 2009, 10 Greenpulse members made a trip to GNC Recycle Sdn Bhd – a prominent recycling company in Kota Kinabalu – to learn about proper segregation methods for recycling. This educational trip was to prepare ourselves for a recycling project we have in mind for the coming semester.
Here we mainly learned about how to distinguish between the different types of paper and plastic that can be recycled.
For paper there are six types:
2) black & white paper
This includes white office paper, even those with printed material (provided that it is black ink only), foolscap paper, art-bloc paper, exercise books (not the cover – which actually belongs to the mixed paper category). For some reason, white paper scribbled with a pen or pencil, regardless of its colour, is also considered black & white paper as long as the scribbling does not exceed 50% of the page.
3) glossy paper
This is the type of paper which has a ‘shine’ on its surface and a smooth texture. Usually higher grade magazines like the Astro magazine, PC Gamer, or Cleo for example.
For such magazines like the one showed in the above photos, the entire magazine is considered glossy.
4) computer paper
Notice in the photo above that what distinguishes computer paper from other types of paper is that it has holes on its sides – strips of perforated paper which you can tear off.
The black (carbon) paper that comes with computer paper should be removed because according to Randy, they are not recyclable – at least in Sabah.
5) mixed paper
This refers to all forms of recyclable paper – even newspaper and white office paper can be thrown into the mixed paper category, but of course its best if we segregated them into their appropriate categories. Here we’ll focus on those paper types NOT already mentioned above (newspaper, black & white paper, glossy paper and computer paper). These can be coloured paper such as those used by loan sharks to promote their services, junk mail, (white/brown/any coloured) envelopes with their window plastic sheet removed, paper folder/file, comic books, non-glossy colourful magazines, Oreo biscuit box, Chips Ahoy! box, toothpaste box etc. Random Maximum.
6) cardboard box/egg carton
Paper That CANNOT be Recycled
However, there are types of paper that CANNOT be recycled such as: food contaminated paper, waxed paper (the brown chicken rice wrapping with shiny insides), waxed cardboard milk & juice containers, oil soaked paper, carbon paper, sanitary products or tissues, thermal fax paper, stickers and plastic laminated paper such as fast food wrappers, juice boxes, and pet food bags. Paper with any sort of contamination or plastic layers CAN’T be recycled. Plastic laminated paper is bad for recycling plants.
For plastics, GNC categorizes them into three types:
Type 1: This includes all types of mineral water bottles as well as most types of soft drink bottles e.g. Coca Cola, Sarsi, Kickapoo, etc. The indicator here is the ‘dot’ at the base of the bottle. Almost all bottles with a ‘dot’ at the base are categorized as Type 1 plastic.
Another and more proper way of distinguishing plastic types is by searching for the triangular ‘recycling’ symbol on the bottle or container and look at it closely. A type 1 plastic would have a number ‘1’ within the symbol, and the letters PET or PETE.
Once in a while, you may encounter a bottle with a ‘dot’ but it may not necessarily be a type 1 plastic. With reference to its indicator symbol, it could be a “7” or a “5” instead. Such grades are usually hardly recyclable or not recyclable. You can tell from its texture and appearance though that it is not the type 1 plastic characteristic of mineral water or soft drink bottles. Just so you know.
Type 2: Detergent bottles, shampoo bottles, and generally the type of plastic that feels harder. Even the cap of mineral water bottles, they are type 2 plastic. For bottles or containers, the indicator is a ‘line’ across the base (instead of a ‘dot’).
If referring to the recycling symbol, type 2 plastic would have a number ‘2’ and the letters HDPE.
Type 3: Plastic bags. The soft, jellyfish-type of plastic bags one uses for shopping and which turtles consume as a finishing snack.
It is very important to note here that this Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 classification for plastics is NOT the complete segregation method for plastic recycling. It may also differ from recycling methods practiced elsewhere. This method described here is actually a very simplified and general categorization by GNC to make it convenient for people to segregate their plastic waste. Randy said that the recycling technology in Sabah is still very basic and that segregation into Types 1,2, and 3 would suffice for plastics. So to clarify this post, as far as we understand, the segregation method described here may only be applicable in Sabah. Examples of a comprehensive categorization of plastics can be found all over the net. An example would be this document found online. Its a Microsoft Word document, download and have a look at it. In any case, just stick to Type 1,2,3 as described above if you are in Sabah.
Aside from paper and plastic, GNC Recycling Sdn Bhd. also collects unwanted-but-still-decently-wearable clothing, batteries, aluminium cans, metal scraps, and CDs. It is very unfortunate that there is not even a single glass recycling plant in Sabah – thus glassware here is 100% landfill-bound.
Everyone then went home happily.