There are many benefits of recycling that positively impacts the world we live in. It is important not only to us but also to the environment and the economy. In this post, we will discover why is recycling important, what to recycle and the benefits of recycling.
The amount of waste we create is increasing because of the following reasons:
- Increase in our buying potential
- Increase in population
- New products and packaging developed with materials that are not environmental-friendly
- Lifestyle changes
In order to keep ourselves, our environment, and our economy safe, we must take steps to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. In this post, we’ll focus on the positive effects of recycling on our environment and economy. So, here your question is answered, how does recycling help the environment?
Why is Recycling Important?
Breaking down a used material organically to be reused and recycled is important. If you do not follow the three rules of sustainability – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – a produced material will only be used once before ending up in landfills and negatively impacting the environment.
Non-recycled waste materials emit greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide, dioxide, and methane, contributing to climate change and global warming. This further increases air pollution, land pollution, and water pollution and puts human lives in danger.
Raw materials come from natural sources like forests, water, and minerals. Recycling cuts back the necessity of procuring new materials and instead works on preserving natural resources by reusing the already procured materials.
What to Recycle?
Following is a list of materials that you can recycle:
Paper products make up 26% of all the waste materials in the United States. Recycling paper contributes to saving trees. So if you have cardboard boxes, old magazines, or mail, do not throw them in the trash but rather give them out for recycling.
Plastics make up the major solid waste material. When you throw plastic in a landfill, it does not break down organically as it is not biodegradable. Single-use plastic items are only used once and discarded. And since these waste materials do not break down organically, recycling is a better option so that the used item can be discarded and reused to make something else.
Recycled glass reduces air pollution by 20% and water pollution by 50%. Moreover, making glass from raw materials cullet needs to be melted, but if we use recycled glass, we save the energy taken to melt it.
Recycling metal products reduces harmful greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming by 300 to 500 million tons. It also conserves energy. Using recycled scrap metals, 92% of energy is saved for aluminum, 56% for steel, and 90% for copper.
Batteries contain heavy metals and corrosive materials that are harmful to the environment. If they are not recycled, the toxic materials are released into the environment, posing a threat to every living being. Moreover, if the batteries are disposed of in the landfills, they can absorb into the soil and contaminate the water supply through their toxic fumes.
Even electronics contain heavy metals and toxic materials like mercury, lead, chromium, and cadmium. These materials can contaminate soil, air, and water and be a threat to living beings along with the environment.
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Environmental Benefits of Recycling
- Deforestation due to raw materials destroys the natural habitat and causes global warming. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials and hence preserves the rainforests.
- Harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses emitted from waste in landfills harm the environment. Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste.
- When products are made from raw materials, large amounts of energy are used. Recycling lowers energy consumption and helps preserve natural resources.
Benefits of Recycling
- Our landfill sites are filling up fast, and in some years, we’ll have no space for waste. Recycling can help control the waste produced.
- Manufacturing new products means using natural resources in large numbers. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials and also reduces the energy consumed. Thus, recycling preserves natural resources for future generations.
- The cost of manufacturing new products is high. But if products are made using recycled products, the cost is reduced. Hence, recycling can reduce financial expenditure in the economy.
- Recycling effectively helps manage disposables in congested areas by not burdening the earth with landfills.
- It conserves energy as recycling can crank out new products at a fraction of the energy compared to the energy used in the creation of brand new products. Also, recycling leads to the emission of less volume of noxious gasses into the environment.
- Because of recycling need for transportation, mining, and other allied activities is greatly reduced.
- The entire array of non-biodegradable wastes like plastics can be recycled, thus saving the land from getting barren from toxic leakages.
- Aluminum cans are in abundant use. Recycling wasted cans can save a humongous amount of energy as the extraction of low-energy aluminum atoms from their bauxite ores demand freedom from the oxide state, which consumes an immense amount of energy.
- Recycling of organic matter leads to the generation of valuable compost which serves as plant fertilizer. Methane is also produced which can serve as fuel for many things, specifically cooking.
- Recycling leads to the conservation of precious natural resources (especially trees and water) and helps protect animal habitats. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form. The balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide is adequately maintained.
- Earth will be healthier and greener as landfills will not gobble fallow land and parks. Global warming is averted and other natural disasters are kept at bay.
- Less landfill and waste littering ensure that the topmost fertile soil is not eroded away. Aquatic biodiversity is maintained as wastes are saved from being dumped in the ocean leading to the depletion of vital nutrients.
- More jobs are created.
- Recycling instils concern for the environment in people.
- Innovations drive scientific advancements in producing less natural resource-intensive products.
- Ordinary householders can make some money by contributing used items to recycle bins and corners managed by the government.
Disadvantages of Recycling
- Methane gas produced during recycling if allowed to seep out can lead to global warming and ozone depletion, as it is a greenhouse gas.
- Operating and maintaining recycling equipment is cost intensive. Further, more factories entail more pollution.
- Governments providing tax subsidies to recycling plants have to bear annually billions of dollars in revenue loss.
- Low-quality jobs undermining human labor are created which involve sifting through wastes and coming across toxins.
- Some items earmarked for recycling have to be ultimately subjected to combustion or landfill dumping due to sub-standard quality.
- Poor management of recycling sites can lead to the creation of unhygienic conditions. Abandoned dumpsters may contain traces of toxins that can seep into underground water sources or pollute the air.
- There is no assurance that high-quality products will be obtained from waste recycling as input raw material if of inferior nature. Bleaching process can expose workers to harsh conditions that can deteriorate health.
- A false sense of security is circulated among people making them more careless consequently leading to the generation of extra trash.
Importance of Recycling
In 2017, the Global Recycling Foundation reported that we use a year’s worth of natural resources in just 7 months. New products are made by extracting raw materials through mining and cutting trees. Recycling helps conserve important raw materials for the future.
LessIsMore.org stated the positive impact of recycling on conserving natural resources:
- 1 ton of recycled plastic saves 16.3 barrels of oil.
- 1 Ton of recycled office paper saves 17 trees, 463 gallons of oil, and 7,000 gallons of water.
- About 1 ton of recycled steel saves 1.8 barrels of oil and 4 cubic yards in a landfill.
When recycled materials are used in the manufacturing process, the amount of energy used is comparatively less. The following recycled materials, if used, can save a significant amount of energy:
- Paper: 60% less energy consumption
- Aluminum: 95% less energy consumption
- Cardboard: 25% less energy consumption
- Plastic and glass: 35% less energy consumption
Helps Protect the Environment
In order to manufacture new products, raw materials need to be extracted, refined, and processed. This causes air and water pollution, and the greenhouse gases emitted during the process cause global warming. Recycling reduces the need for raw materials, thus reducing pollution. It also saves energy that reduces the greenhouse gases released, thereby helps in tackling climate change.
The EPA estimates that Americans recycle 34% of the waste they create and landfill the remaining 66%.When we recycle, less amount of waste is sent to the landfill.
An EPA fact sheet from 2014 states that the materials present in the landfills can be easily recycled or composted: paper and paperboard (14%); rubber, leather, and textiles (10%); food waste (21%), and plastic (18%).
Recycling and using recycled products will help you save money. For example, you can recycle vegetable and fruit waste, grass, and leaves to make compost. Additionally, you can sell your recyclable waste to recycling companies. This means recycling can definitely put some money in your pockets.
Cleans the Oceans
8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the ocean and hurt marine wildlife every year. Recycling helps prevent plastic products from ending up in the ocean.
Saves the Natural Habitats
Trees are destroyed to make paper, and this not only reduces the oxygen in the atmosphere but also eliminates natural habitats. When recycled materials are used to make new products, it reduces the need to cut down trees and consume natural resources, thus preserving natural habitats.
Economic Benefits of Recycling
Recycling creates several job opportunities in any community. A number of people can find jobs in the recycling sector and in places where recycled products and recycling-related materials are produced. This sector is ripe with work opportunities for middle-class people and those with limited education. Jobs in recycling are also known as green jobs due to the positive impact they have on the environment. Green jobs are essential for our economy and have an equally significant hand in making our planet a better place to live in.
Supports the Local Community
When materials are recycled locally, it means more jobs for people who are paid to process recycled materials. This boosts your local economy and creates a better future for all. Your recycling efforts also create new businesses like collection, transportation, processing, manufacturing, packaging, and selling of recycled products, paving the way for a greener future.
Raises Overall Environmental Consciousness
Even if one homeowner starts recycling and eventually graduates to composting or using alternative energy by installing solar panels, etc., the others may follow his/her lead. This will eventually raise the overall environmental consciousness. You can offer to pick up recyclables on the curbside. It may seem like a small step, but eventually, it will add up to something substantial and have a positive effect on the environment.
Tips for Recycling
You do not have to be a professional to recycle. Here are some tips you can follow to master the art of recycling efficiently:
- Flatten cardboards before you give them for recycling
- Have designated bins at home, office, and streets
- Opt for recycled products
- Before recycling, think of reusing and reducing usage
Do Your Part and Give Back to the Community
- Opt for recycled products, regardless of whether it’s the product itself or their packaging. When you buy recycled products, you are helping all those manufacturers who recycle various materials.
- Try to use common services more often, like renting equipment and tools instead of buying them.
- Buy items that come in recyclable packaging and buy them in bulk. Avoid disposable and non-biodegradable items. Carry a reusable canvas bag when you go shopping.
Look out for unnecessary packaging when you buy products. If you think that there is unnecessary packaging, contact the manufacturer and tell them about it. This suggestion may go a long way in how economically and efficiently the packaging is done in the future.
Try to make recycling a part of your daily life. Every time you throw something, be sure to check if it can be recycled or reused.
Compactor Management Company (former Northern California Compactors, Inc.) offers installation and support services for waste recycling equipment such as waste compactors, balers, shredders & conveyor systems. Established in 1981, it offers waste management solutions across the United States.