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Collecting Silver Paper for the Blind Dog?!


Since a long time ago, people have been encouraged to collect silver paper (aluminium foil) and bottle tops "for the blind dog". That is, for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Such aluminium foil was present in a variety of common wrappers, for example chocolate, and glass milk bottles had a cap made of aluminium foil. The collection of all this stuff was an early form of recycling, and the high grade aluminium was sold and the proceeds went to fund the worthy good cause Guide Dogs for the Blind. It may seem a bit mysterious now, with people talking about how their grandparents would collect silver paper for the blind dog, but that's the fact.

So, what happened to collecting silver paper for the Blind Dog / Guide Dogs for the Blind? Surely it should be even more popular now that recycling has become more fashionable, and now that people are more aware of good causes?

Apparently, there are problems. Part of the trouble is that some of the chocolate manufacturers have stopped using real aluminium silver paper wrappers and have substituted plastic of a type that resembles shiny silver paper. This confuses people trying to do save up "silver paper" for the blind, and if any of the plastic non-aluminium wrappers get into the recycling process they smell and cause problems. Because the materials are mixed up, volunteers have the job of sorting it all out. What makes the volunteers' job more difficult is the fact that some of the contributors don't make sure the foil is clean, and if any pie trays get included with remains of food, there is a problem of the smell and health risk. (Incidentally, I have found that if the foil and bits are kept for months and then heated up, the risk to health is minimal, and the smell of toasted bits is not so bad). Does anyone know why chocolate manufacturers think that plastic is in any way better than recyclable aluminium foil?

Worst of all, there have been cases reported where the aluminium foil collection has somehow ended up with a few used hypodermic syringes included. No-one could mistake these to be aluminium, so it is almost beyond belief that they could get in the "silver paper" accidentally. Yet, surely no-one has a grudge against blind people?! Anyway, the problem of the syringes has to some extent sabotaged the noble efforts of the silver paper collection campaign.

I believe the problems involved with corrupting elements in the aluminium foil are solvable by having some sort of machine, a mill which could mince up the stuff, taking advantage of the fact that aluminium foil is easily torn up into tiny shreds but plastic sheet wraps around instead, and plastic syringes bend. If it's possible to build a machine that can process "mechanically recovered meat" from animal bones, then it's possible to mash up aluminium foil bits and recover all the pure metal.

Aluminium is not attracted to permanent magnets, but is repelled from AC magnetic fields. This, and aluminium's unusual density of 2.7 , and the way it conducts electricity, plus the way it tears into bits, could make it a practical possibility to separate the recyclable metal from the other stuff.

Of course, if everyone was more careful when recycling the silver paper, and if sabotage could be avoided, the whole "collecting silver paper for the blind dog" business could be saved without having to have a special machine.

Meanwhile, there are still some people braving the problems and continuing to collect aluminium foil in the charitable cause of Guide Dogs for the Blind. You can find if there are any such places near you by asking the local council. They're usually keen to promote any charitable causes in the area, as well as anything connected with recycling.