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We’ve all been told repeatedly that recycling is essential and we must do it, but why is that the case, and can it help the environment?
In short, yes – recycling can have an extremely positive effect on our planet.
Below, you will learn all about the benefits of recycling and why you should consider doing it more, but before that, let’s briefly answer an essential question –
Why Is Recycling Good for the Environment?
Recycling benefits the environment in many ways — it conserves natural resources, saves energy, and reduces pollution.
It decreases waste production, preserving landfill space, oceans, and wildlife. Its positive impact on the environment can be tremendous.
However, this is all in theory. In real life, recycling is a bit more complicated and doesn’t work that smoothly.
During that time, certain types of waste may release methane, a toxic gas that further pollutes the air.
This is why working towards increasing the recycling rates is essential.
7 Reasons Why You Should Recycle
1. It Saves Energy
Whether a product is made of raw or recycled materials, its manufacturing requires energy.
That energy is rarely eco-friendly — to process materials, we need electricity and heat, usually from fossil fuels.
And though we can’t eliminate this energy consumption, we can reduce it. The key is to use recycled materials.
Their processing typically requires less energy than that of raw materials. Here are some stats:
- Making paper from recycled paper pulp requires 40% less energy than producing it from wood fibers.
- Producing aluminum from recycled cans and foil uses 95% less energy than making it from aluminum ore.
- Making glass products from recycled glass saves 10-15% of energy.
2. Conserves Natural Resources
The constant demand for raw materials to create new stuff has put people and our planet at risk.
That’s because the world’s natural resources are finite, and some are in very short supply.
When we recycle, we create new stuff using old materials, which saves non-renewable resources. Some common examples are:
- Recycling paper and wood saves trees and forests.
- Recycling plastic creates less demand for new plastic and less need for fossil fuel.
- Recycling metals means there’s less need for damaging mining and extraction of new metal ores.
- Recycling glass reduces the need to use new raw materials like sand.
3. It Reduces Incineration
A frequently used method of waste disposal is incineration. The emitted heat is sometimes used to generate electricity.
While it may seem like a good idea, incineration is often detrimental to local communities and their air quality.
When burning trash, some of the waste may release dangerous toxins, polluting the air and leading to serious health problems, including respiratory infections, asthma, vector-borne illnesses, and diarrheal diseases.
One way to combat waste incineration is by recycling. Recycled waste doesn’t end up in incinerators — instead, it replaces raw materials and circles into the consumer chain.
Thanks to that, there’s less need for incinerators and less air pollution.
4. It Protects Wildlife and Ecosystems
While extracting and obtaining raw materials, we often cut down forests, open mines, and divert rivers.
All this can tremendously impact surrounding wildlife and its natural habitat. Such changes can lead to dramatic disruptions in the entire ecosystem.
And it’s not just animals and plants that suffer from it. Deforestation and ocean pollution may not have immediate consequences on humans, but they also have adverse effects on us.
People are to leave their homes, lose their land, inhale toxic emissions from mines, etc.
Sadly, we can’t completely stop using natural resources yet. But we can try to minimize the overall impact.
There are several ways to do that, and recycling is one of them. If we can obtain materials from recycled products, we’ll have less of a need for raw materials and less of an impact on natural ecosystems.
5. Recycling Food Waste Generates Valuable Compost
Using food waste to recycle it into compost is a simple yet fantastic way to deal with food scraps.
The process is relatively easy. You will need fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee beans, dry leaves, and other organic waste.
Then, you can make a compost pile, either in your yard (if you have one), or in a smaller bucket, in case you live in an apartment.
There are 7 ways of composting, and you can choose the one that suits your current lifestyle.
Compost can easily replace other inorganic fertilizers in gardens and on farms. In addition, it can feed the land, allowing other plants and crops to grow.
And since you will make it at home, by yourself, you know that it’s completely natural and eco-friendly!
6. It Reduces Carbon Emissions
Currently, most trash usually ends up in the landfill, where it stays for decades, sometimes even centuries, slowly breaking down.
Such waste releases toxic gasses that are dangerous to the surrounding, including methane, which is one of the more potent greenhouse gasses.
It’s over 25 times as potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.
Over the last two centuries, its concentration in the atmosphere has doubled, making it one of the leading causes of global warming. And there’s no doubt that’s the result of human activity.
If we start recycling most of our waste, landfills won’t be so full anymore. And because recycling requires less energy, fossil fuels, and incineration, it can reduce overall carbon emissions.
7. Recycling Creates Jobs
Recycling also has economic benefits – it creates jobs while generating local and state tax revenues.
After analyzing, the study found that for a single year, recycling and reusing activities in the US accounted for:
- 681,000 jobs
- $37.8 billion in wages
- and $5.5 billion in tax revenues.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is Recycling the Best Waste Management Option?
The best way to manage waste is not to create it in the first place. The 5R’s of zero waste puts recycling as a last resort.
It prioritizes reducing, reusing, refusing, and composting (rot). When none of these are possible, recycling comes as an option.
Why Should We Ensure That Only Recyclable Materials End Up in Recycling Bins?
Adding non-recyclable materials to your recycling bin can cause a lot of trouble, including:
- It can contaminate the recycling stream
- It can cause damage to the equipment in the recycling centers.
As a result, the whole recycling batch will go to a landfill, making the process more complicated, wasteful, and costly.
That’s why it is essential to see the local recycling rules and only put recyclable items into your recycling bin.
Isn’t Transporting Recyclables Bad for the environment?
Before they arrive at the recycling center, recyclables are usually transported in large trucks. Unfortunately, trucks use gas which isn’t eco-friendly.
But when we compare the overall positive impact of recycling to the negative effect the transportation of recyclables can have, it’s clear the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Clearly, the way we’ve dealt with waste so far isn’t particularly eco-friendly. But there are ways to reduce our impact.
The solution lies in the circular economy, which promotes reusing, refusing, reducing, repairing, and recycling instead of throwing things away.
The more we focus on the 5R’s, the less garbage will end up in landfills and incineration plants.
All in all, recycling can be a great solution if everyone starts practicing it.
While now, it is far from perfect, we can put our efforts towards improving it.