6 Recycling Success Stories | Recycling Innovations

6 Recycling Success Stories

6 Recycling Success Stories

The news from the world of recycling can be grim, but there have been a number of successful recycling innovations that are quietly fueling the dream of a circular economy. Consider these recycling success stories:

Craig’s Creamery

Craig’s Creamery, located on Noblehurst Farms, is a cooperative cheesemaking concern for several local dairies. The creamery is powered by electricity made from methane captured by their anaerobic digester. The digester is fed with the food scraps from the cheese making business, and by the manure from the dairy cattle providing the milk. Since 2014, they have reused over 20 million pounds of food waste to produce electricity for their creamery.

Recycled Insulation

Another recycling innovation is building insulation for new construction and for the DIY homeowner, which is now being made with a number of materials that are safe, effective, and recycled. Cellulose insulation is made from shredded recycled paper, and experiments with wool and alpaca fleece and hemp fibers are being developed. The favorite, though, is denim insulation, being made from denim and cotton textiles. These are both post-industrial and recycled post-consumer textile waste and are rated as effective as fiberglass and other more toxic forms of insulation.

Fly Ash

Fly ash in concrete products in place of Portland Cement has been a big win for the building industry and the environment. Fly ash is the end product of burning coal for electricity generation. The product had previously been discarded. It’s now being used to make eco-friendly cement replacements. The fly ash increases the workability, strength, and durability of the cement, and has a low embodied energy, especially compared to Portland cement. Also, the fly ash is lighter, making it less costly to transport to building sites.


Another recycling story is tires being recycled into Earthships throughout the southwest, a building style that uses the thick walls of earth-rammed tires to provide comfortable indoor temperatures in an inhospitable climate. These buildings also use recycled bottles and cans for non-load bearing walls. The veteran’s non-profit Foxhole Homes is building a tiny-house/earthship hybrid community for homeless veterans near Alamagordo, using baled recycled tires for the climate-friendly walls.

Recycled Roads

Both recycled glass and plastic are being used in asphalt for roads. Glassphalt is effective and functional, but has just a bit less traction than full asphalt roads. Engineers are only using the glass addition for roads where cars are driving at lower speeds. A problem with the recycled glass, through it has been found to be effective, long-lasting, and workable, is that recycled glass prices are impacted by the commodities market. In some regions, prices fluctuate to make the inclusion of recycled glass not economically beneficial. Plastics are also being used in some road construction projects as an inclusion in the asphalt mixture. The test roads are now being driven in Texas, and will be evaluated for their longevity.

Recycled Plastics in Clothing

Plastics have been used for a number of years now to make recycled fleece clothing, and several types of infill for sleeping bags, dog beds, and puffer jackets. Patagonia and Everlane are both large companies seeking new uses for recycled plastic; Everlane’s new trainers are an industry model. The concern over microplastics in the water supply due to recycled and new plastics in textiles is growing, but scientists and other concerned stakeholders are working on the issue.

Innovative thinkers are continuing to image new uses for recycled raw materials and post-consumer products. As systems evolve, new challenges will hopefully foster new innovation and recycling success stories.

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One Response to 6 Recycling Success Stories

  1. Avatar AlanChaplaski says:

    We need more ideas like these. We also need these ideas to be put in practice around the country!

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