Whether or not you’re an avid reader, you probably have a number of hardcover books and paperbacks around the house that are taking up space. Your first instinct might be to donate them to a local library or school, or a charity, where they might bring someone else the joy they brought to you. This isn’t a terrible sentiment, but have you ever wondered what happens to all of the books that are obsolete or no longer in any condition to be read? Oftentimes, used books do end up in landfills, but there’s another, more environmentally-friendly solution – recycle them. Let’s look closer at the finer points of book recycling, such as how it’s accomplished and how it’s helpful.
When You Should Recycle Instead of Donate
There are numerous cases that can be made for the types of books that should be recycled, but there are two major categories to which everyone can relate.
Out-of-Date Educational and Non-Fiction Content
While books about historical events might always provide readers with perspective and knowledge, our rapidly advancing technology industry means there are numerous technologies and topics that are obsolete and not worth researching or reading about. What’s the web developer to do with all of their books and training materials concerning a language that hasn’t been actively used in several years? Or consider nonfiction works covering information found to be no longer valid – scientific works, for example- that might depend on theories that have since been disproven? Should we keep these books around for the sake of nostalgia, or find an environmentally responsible method of disposal? Book recycling seems to be the best option for disposal when books are no longer useful or informative.
A good rule of thumb in this case is that if you’re not able to hold a book in your hands and read it without it falling apart or the covers and spine are damaged, it’s likely time to donate the books. Similarly, if mold or rot has set in, or the environment in which they’ve been kept has resulted in an odor, the books should make their way to a recycling program.
The Recycling Process
Book recycling can have a tremendous environmental impact. A ton of paper recycled saves 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 380 gallons of oil, 17 trees, roughly 4000 kilowatts of energy, and about 7000 gallons of water. Most times, paperbacks can be recycled as they come, but hardbacks generally require the removal of the outer cover, as the glue and board cannot mix with paper pulp during the recycling process. The remaining paper product is then mixed with water to create a pulp, the imperfections removed, and then the resulting mixture spread and dried into new paper and reused.
Unique Challenges Posed by E-Readers
We talked briefly at the start of the article about the rise of digital content. E-readers have become prevalent throughout culture, and as a result, have become another electronic device that over time wears out and must be replaced. Once an e-reader needs to be replaced, it must be properly disposed of, like any other e-waste, to ensure the toxic materials in the components don’t make their way into a landfill.
Recycling Made Easy
A zero waste, zero landfill recycling operation, 1 Green Planet strives to provide extensive recycling services encompassing most electronics and even more traditional products, including books. Our goal is to ensure our commercial-level recycling services are accessible for organizations that require an avenue for safe and environmentally conscious disposal of electronics, scrap materials, and other materials that might otherwise pose a danger to the integrity of landfills.