Recycling is an important phase in prolonging the lives of every material we can find in our houses, offices, schools and communities. It is a way for individuals and industries to reduce the waste they generate, as well as lessen waste’s negative impacts to the environment.
On a daily basis, more than 100 million Americans participate in recycling used and old materials in their household and offices. For many environmentalists, recycling is a great way to protect the environment, reduce the depletion of natural resources and stimulate a country’s economy.
If you look at it closely, however, there are so much more to recycling than meets the eyes. Every time you recycle, you save resources, prevents pollution, supports public health and creates jobs. It also saves money, avoids landfills and incinerators, as well as generates income.
Understanding the significance of recycling in today’s society cannot be highlighted enough. The value of recycling is parallel to the life cycle of a particular product—from the extraction and processing of raw materials to the manufacturing of products to its final disposal and to the recycling process.
Recycling, the last stage to the life cycle, creates a closed-loop cycle where the used products are returned to manufacturers for reproduction of new materials. By recycling, it prevents the pollution and destruction of virgin materials like trees and metals that are being extracted from the earth’s natural resources.
Recycling saves energy
It takes less energy to make products with recycled materials than virgin materials. A good example would be the production of aluminum from bauxite ore or from recycled aluminum. It takes 20 times more energy to produce aluminum from bauxite ore than just simply using recycled materials. Also, recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to power a computer for about three hours.
Making one pound of recycled aluminum will only require four percent of the energy it will take to create aluminum from bauxite ore. Can you imagine just how many energy can be saved especially when you count in the 100.6 billion cans Americans use each year?
By recycling about 30 percent of household and industrial waste every year, the United States save more than 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline. It also reduces greenhouse gas, which is equivalent to 25 million cars off the road.
Even recycling a simple sheet of paper saves energy and reduces pollution. Making new paper from recycled materials uses 55 percent less energy than producing it from raw materials like trees. Recycling paper will also reduce air pollution by 95 percent, and prevents the cutting down of trees, which is vital in the prevention of so many environmental disasters.
In fact, if all Sunday newspapers printed in the United States will be recycled, the California Department of Conservation estimated that the effort would save about 550,000 trees. In a year, that would be 28 million trees.
The energy saved by recycling compared with usage of raw materials is as follows: 95 percent energy for aluminum recycling, 75 percent for plastics recycling, 60 percent for steel recycling, 40 percent for glass and newspaper recycling.
Recycling prevents pollution
When recycled materials are used instead of virgin materials for manufacturing new products, it avoids the environmental damage usually caused by extracting natural resources such as mining metals, drilling petroleum and harvesting trees and plants.
In fact, producing papers from recycled materials causes 74 percent less air pollution and requires 35 percent less water than creating it out of raw fibers. As for aluminum cans, recycling them instead of extracting ore decreases air pollution by about 95 percent and water pollution by 97 percent.
Pollution of air and water creates so many potential harmful damages to our health that it has become such an important cause to raise awareness about the role of recycling against many of the earth’s pollutants. Remember that recycling and re-manufacturing are 194 times more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (that causes global warming) than land filling, incineration and manufacturing from virgin materials.
In most countries, majority of energy is generated by burning fossil fuels that is why the usage of less energy in manufacturing products from recycled materials also means it will create less air and water pollution. Aside from that, recycling also helps reduce other forms of pollution like runoff from mining operations and farms, soil erosion and the toxic chemicals released when during the manufacturing of raw materials.
Recycling conserves landfill space
Every day, some new environmentalist group crops up to speak about the ills of landfill and how hazardous it is to the health of the communities nearby, as well as to the environment. Recycling can address the age-old problem of landfill by turning into usable materials those things that would have been otherwise thrown into a landfill.
Everything that goes into a landfill stays there. It doesn’t get burned, and will just eventually evaporate into the air (not counting those non-biodegradable materials). As waste breaks down, the contamination of air, land and water starts. The breaking down of wastes takes years (sometimes hundreds) and releases greenhouse methane gas and other toxins that will flush themselves into bodies of water that are essential to our well-beings.
By keeping recyclable materials out of landfills, you also help in keeping air and water cleaner, as well as help in reducing the need for states and cities to build more landfills.
Recycling creates jobs and saves money
Recycling facilities have created more jobs than landfills have. For every 10,000 tons of waste generated each year, one job is being created at a landfill while there is approximately 10 jobs in the recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycled-based manufacturing.
Those who pick your recycle bins by your curbside are also employed by recycling facilities. And as long as you bring recyclable plastics, metals and old appliances to junk shops, then these shops won’t close down and will always find a way to recycle your old things.
Another benefit of recycling is that it generates a small income for you and your family. Don’t you want to earn something from the batteries you purchased and have discharged? Doesn’t it feel good to earn some bucks by simply driving recyclable materials to facilities or to junk yard shops?
When you throw your trash out, your municipal government pays $60 per ton for collecting the garbage and $20 per ton for throwing them in a landfill. That’s $80 for every ton of garbage you throw out.
Recycling can help offset the extra costs of collecting and processing recyclables by as much as $55. Collecting and processing recyclable materials may be more expensive at $70 per ton (for collecting) and $45 per ton (for processing), but you can sell one ton of recycled materials to a manufacturer for $90. You then save $55 in recycling, plus you may also receive more than the $90-compensation for your effort to bring the recycled materials to a manufacturer.
So see, aside from the environmental benefits of recycling, it has economic value as well.
Recycling is as easy as purchasing a bottle of water in a convenience store. All you have to do is take to heart the different methods that you can use in recycling your old and used things. A single step towards a recycling lifestyle is a major aid in the goals of so many environment advocates and government to save the environment from the depleting natural resources.
By simply following the recycle mantra of “reduce, reuse and recycle,” you can help forward the fight against environmental destruction. The benefits of recycling cannot be underlined enough. But every single day you spend outside the sweltering heat or the harsh winter, you should realize that all these environmental happenings are being caused by society’s continuous disregard for the importance of recycling.