Beware! How 10 Dangerous Materials Are Recycled

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Trash is always messy, but what happens when recycling gets downright dangerous? From heavy metals to undetonated explosives, check out the ways Americans are recycling perilous materials into useful new products.


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1. Explosives

fireworks, firecrackers, dynamite, explosives, tnt
Photo: Shutterstock
fireworks, firecrackers, dynamite, explosives, tnt
caution, corrosive, corrosives, acid, acids, barrel, hazardous, waste, dangerous
gun, firearm, bullet, bullets, ammunition, glock, handgun, pistol, casing, casings
asbestos, construction, hazardous, waste, siding, insulation, dangerous
lead, acid, battery, batteries, car, junk, yard, scrap, metal, collection, pile, landfill, garbage
fire, extinguisher, extinguishers, safety, equipment, prevention
junk, scrap, yard, refrigerator, old, refrigerators, landfill, garbage, dumping, litter, rust, junkyard
farmer, farm, using, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemicals, hazardous, waste
smoke, detector, new, construction, house, home, fire, safety, prevention
medical, hazardous, biohazard, waste, sharps, needles, needle, syringe, plastic, plastics, cap, caps, bottle

Explosives available for reuse and recycling range from unused fireworks to unexploded landmines and other heavy propellants, called unexploded ordnance or UXOs.

Generally, explosives are taken to a safety range where they are ignited and the hazardous chemicals are burnt off.

However, metals such as brass, steel and aluminum typically remain at the end of the detonation process, totaling up to 60 percent of the total weight, and these will be recycled.

Technologies are also emerging to convert unexploded propellants into commercial mining explosives and even fertilizer – proving that even uncommon materials can be put to good use.

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