Erasers are one of the staples of school life. Many children love to collect erasers without thinking about where to use them or how to dispose of them. The second one is becoming a major concern in modern times.
Most erasers now-a-days are made up of synthetic material. They are non-biodegradable just like plastic and polybags. They contribute significantly to the ongoing Plastic Crisis.
Since erasers are non-biodegradable, many people are developing methods to recycle them. Today I will clear your queries regarding ‘Can erasers be recycled? What are the other ways to get rid of them?’
Can Erasers Be Recycled?
Erasers are very difficult to recycle but we can use the 3Rs strategy to get rid of them which is; Reduce, reuse and recycle.
I will fully explain the 3Rs strategy later on. First, we need to understand the types of erasers and how it affects their degradability.
Types Of Erasers
Erasers can be broadly classified into two types:
- Rubber erasers
- Vinyl erasers
- These are bio-degradable and easy to reuse erasers.
- They contain rubber as their main ingredient. Rubber is an organic waste derived from resins of rubber material.
It was first discovered in the 1770s. Its usage came to a halt in the modern 20th century when they were largely replaced by vinyl erasers.
- They use Vinyl as their main ingredient. Vinyl is a Non-Biodegradable material (a material that cannot be decomposed by any organism and hence can sustain in the environment for an infinite period of time).
- They are the sole contributing erasers in the Plastic Crisis.
Every eraser made in modern times uses Vinyl as the main component. It is more resilient and softer for paper, making it the better eraser between the two. Pink erasers also called Plugs found on the back of a pencil, also contain Vinyl.
Vinyl erasers are very difficult to reuse and recycle. There is hardly any recycling company in the UK or the US that recycles Vinyl erasers. It is due to the low demands and the difficulty gathering the erasers.
Now that we know the different types of erasers, we will discuss the 3Rs strategy in detail.
After separating the clothes with their color my mom always separates the heavy and bigger ones from the rest. She says that they need more spinning time than the other small and light clothes. This is true, heavy clothes need more spinning to get all the dirt out of them.
This is very helpful when you are washing your clothes. Separating bulky clothes from the rest makes it easier to handle those bulky clothes. Also, heavy and bulky clothes take more space than the others. You can wash them in the last load. This way when the washing machine is taking its time in spinning those heavy clothes, to clean all the dirt they have, you can hang the rest of the clothes for air drying.
3Rs= Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Reducing waste, reusing, and recycling the products are included in the 3Rs. This strategy was accepted in June 2004 to fight the ongoing pollution and to reduce waste production.
This strategy can be implicated against every material. It is very important to follow the 3Rs in the right order. Many people start recycling projects without reducing the usage of the product itself. It results in a very poor outcome.
3Rs can be applied to erasers in the following ways:
Reducing the purchase and consumption of vinyl erasers is the best solution to this environmental issue.
As I mentioned previously, many children collect erasers as a hobby. Those children should be educated about the hazards of erasers to the environment. This will reduce the number of buyers and the production will follow its lead.
Erasers can be reused as stamps and to protect ourselves against sharp objects. But this is easier to say than being done.
Why Reusing The Erasers Are Difficult
Reusing the erasers is very difficult because:
- Soft erasers form small eraser shavings which are dumped before collection
- Hard erasers absorb graphite and change their color to black while losing their ability to rub
Still, people have devised creative ways to use eraser shavings. Now we will see the above-mentioned uses in detail.
Reuse As Rubber Stamps For Children
Old and big rubbers can be cut out in different stamps. It is a very creative activity for children. They are not recommended for office use.
Rubber stamps and rigid erasers have the same qualities. They can absorb stamp pad ink very well. But erasers cannot efficiently print it on paper.
Children in the kindergarten are encouraged to cut the big erasers into different shapes and sizes. It is a good recreational activity and also helps to boost their imagination.
Protecting Our Fingers
Blackened erasers can be stuck between your doors and wooden box to prevent slamming, and protect your fingers.
Small erasers can be placed at the end of sharp objects. It will protect you and your children from all these objects. It will also protect your doors from damages.
Recycling is based on the nature of the erasers:
- Rubber eraser can be reformed and reused after a hot bath
- Vinyl erasers can be used on roads as Asphalts
Recycling Rubber Erasers
They contain organic rubber and they can be recycled back and forth many times. Rubber is pretty much like our skin. A boiling water bath opens the pores in the erasers and cleans them from the inside. You can follow the given steps for recycling your erasers.
- Heat the water up to the boiling temperature and add 2 tablespoons of dish soap
- Put the used erasers in the boiling water
- Low down the temperature, if you see too many soap bubbles
- Take the erasers out and let them dry for 1-2 days
Hot water opens up the eraser pores which allow the soap in and dissolves the graphite. The erasers will become softer, smoother, and shinier after this cleansing.
Recycling Vinyl Erasers
Vinyl erasers are non-biodegradable and very difficult to recycle. The best solution is to use them in road asphalt.
These erasers convert into eraser dust which is dumped into the bin and later into the oceans. But its collection can be very helpful in decreasing that plastic load.
Its best use is in road asphalt that is applied during road renovations. It can be crushed and mixed with other similar material like crushed tiers in road repairing.
Modern erasers are a major contributor to the environmental crisis. Unlike the old eraser which contains bio-degradable rubber as their main ingredient, modern erasers contain vinyl which is a plastic-like polymer and very hard to degrade.
We can follow the 3Rs strategy to lessen down the pollution burden caused by erasers. Reducing the consumption and number of consumers will reduce eraser production and waste formation. This can be achieved through educating the masses and manufacturers about the harms of vinyl erasers.
Reusing the erasers for road asphalts or as stamps can also lessen its dumping. It will ultimately reduce the non-biodegradable mountain of plastic. Recycling the erasers, once achieved, will help to solve the problem permanently.
I hope I was able to answer your queries regarding the recycling of erasers. If you have any questions or any suggestions that you want to add, feel free to comment down below.
Beatrix Ainsley (Bea to her friends) is an abstract artist who was heavily inspired in her twenties by the abstract expressionist movement of the 1940s. Since then Bea has acquired three degrees in Science, Education and most importantly Fine Art. Her art works showcase exploring emotion and introspection of self. To achieve this – the use of bold, sweeping, intricate layers of color, and spontaneity of form is enhanced by reflecting on decades of life experiences. Bea has amassed a vast knowledge of art in all its forms, and hopes to pass it on with her contributions here.