How does recycling save energy? When you recycle any material, it means that you don’t have to make it from scratch. It is quite labor intensive and requires a lot of energy to extract, refine and transport the resources that are used to produce materials such as plastic, aluminum, paper or glass. Producing anything from recycled materials will require significantly lesser energy as compared to making it from fresh, raw materials. Recycling will also prevent the discarded materials from accumulating in landfills and also help in conserving the planet’s natural resources.
Let us look at how recycling various materials helps in saving energy.
Aluminum is one of the most widely used materials around the world. Around 100 billion aluminum cans are sold in the United States annually. It is also one of the most efficient recyclable materials. Aluminum can be constantly reused and it requires really less processing power to recycle. The crushed aluminum stock can simply be melted down, which can be added to freshly extracted aluminum. This process will not degrade the quality of the end product. The energy required to produce about 20 recycled cans is the same as making one can from the fresh bauxite ore, making recycling aluminum really efficient. The time taken for the aluminum to go from the recycling bin at your home to the shelves in the market is just 60 days! Significant energy savings can be achieved as the aluminum can be recycled indefinitely without degrading. There is no need to bring any new material in the production cycle.
Plastics constitute a major component of consumer products. There are seven types of plastics and each of them has different polymers and varied purposes. Producing plastic accounts for 4% of the country’s total annual energy consumption. The pressure on the energy consumption can be relieved by recycling the plastics, down-cycling them or repurposing them. Unlike aluminum, the quality of plastic degrades each time it is down-cycled. At some point, the plastic water bottle will end up in the trash can, but until then it can be used to make low-grade materials that include lumber, fleece or carpet fiber. Manufacturers these days are able to re-create plastic products of high quality, while taking lesser energy to produce it.
One of the major advantages of recycling paper is that it saves thousands of trees, which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Recycling a ton of paper saves up to 17 trees. Producing recycled paper requires only 60 percent of the total energy and half the water normally required to produce paper from fresh pulp. Paper is one of the most recycled materials in the United States. The one problem manufacturers face is the leftover ink residue, which makes it difficult to achieve bright white paper. However, research is being conducted on producing biodegradable inks and even erasable paper which can help in improving recycling efficiency is on the rise.
Recycling glass isn’t as efficient as compared to others because of the processing required to turn the glass into a raw and usable state. However, it is highly recommended to recycle and reuse it as it will end up in landfills if you discard it. It takes around a million years for glass to break down in landfills. Thus, you should consider recycling and reusing glass as often as possible. It is extremely easy to reuse glass jars and bottles at home instead of buying new ones.
How Does Baling Recyclables Contribute to Energy Savings
You can collect and bale plastic, aluminum and paper, and transport it to recycling centers. Vertical balers can compact the recyclables into dense bales and they make it inexpensive to store and transport the recyclables. Thus, balers help in contributing to the energy savings significantly.