Environmental Benefits of Recycling
Nowadays our natural resources and energy are being used up at a very high rate. Deforestation is rapidly wiping out our planet’s forests, while tons of waste are produced every single second. For these important reasons, SEA will never get tired to over emphasize the high importance of recycling (reducing and reusing).
The manufacturing proccess – The major environment polluters are factories, that by powering their manufacturing mechanisms they release a high poisonous gas. The chemicals used in this proccess have a high contamination level towards water sources or basins, as it is almost impossible to desintegrate these chemicals, so usually they are realeased in nature, which is devastating. But there is another more ecological way of manufacturing. It starts with Recycling.
Waste – The more we buy (contrary to reducing), the more we throw away (instead of reusing and recycling), the more we create waste.
Waste has many forms. It can be plastic bottles, batteries, paper products, furniture, electronic gadgets, clothing, glass, metals and other forms or materials. Lack of action can only increase the mass of waste. It does not desintegrate by itself, at least not within the next 8 centuries.
This is where recycling comes in.
The Environmental Protection Agency has declared that 75% of the rubbish sent to landfills (thrown away waste) in the United States can be recycled. By doing so, the poisonous gases and chemicals that are released into the water, air and land from the waste in landfills or burning of certain materials (i.e. plastic) could be lowered. So less waste, less landfills, but more free usable land for different purposes.
Earth’s resources are finite, so the less we use the more our future generations will have. While we have no doubts they will know how to use them better than us in every way. Knowledge – wise they are to us what we are to our predecessors, the future.
Recycling is the best known way that consumes less raw materials. Using less of these materials, we lower the deforestation and mining proccesses that are devastating to the environment.
Conserving energy – Energy is all around us. Without it, life would be obsolete. To consume less of it, recycling is the answer. Much less energy is required to recycle a product rather than make one from raw materials. In both cases, energy is required. In recycling it is neded just a small portion of energy to break down the materials into their original elements. While producing it from raw materials we need energy for extraction from earth (mining), transport to the manufacture facility and the manufacturing proccess.
As an example, the production of a bottle from recycled plastic can save up to 3 hours of energy needed to watch television. Another example is recycling paper. Not only do we save energy, but less trees are cut down to minimize the deforestation proccess. Glass can be melted in lower temperatures if recycled, so there is no high rise of temperatures that directly influence in global warming.
Recycling Benefits to the Economy
It may not seem so at first sight, but the benefits from recycling are numerous in relation to the economy.
1 – Saving Money
The cost of making a product through recycling, towards the cost of making it from raw materials is quite low. An example may make it more clear.
The cost of using fresh aluminum is twice as much as using recycled aluminum. The reason is that extracting the element from it’s raw form takes a lot more energy, in this case about 90% more than recycling it. Therefore recycled products can be purchased much cheaper.
Another benefit is the lower costs of waste disposal facilities. For example: If more material is recycled, less waste will go to landfills, less landfills will be needed, so there is less costs for the community in order to maintain landfills. While the sale of the reusable materials can generate another income for these facilities, lowering the community costs even more.
Huge areas used for landfills, can be saved and used for different puposes. This might seem as a second hand benefit for large territorial cuntries, but vital to small ones.
Recycling helps using every material to its maximum potential, saving money, the environment and the planet’s resources.
2 – Creating Jobs
Cost effectiveness is not the only benefit of recycling. When a recycling system is created, there is a need of transportation, processing and selling the recovered materials, not leaving aside the companies that manufacture and distribute products made with recycled materials.
As a neccessity, jobs are created. An example is the management of a landfill. By dumping 10 thousand tons of waste in a landfill, 6 people are needed. If these 10 thousand tons of waste are recycled, 36 people are needed. We just created 30 more jobs, which is 6 times more jobs than without recycling.
3 – Generating Revenue
At the same time, jobs in the recycling industry add value to the materials, because the labour is sepparated in different types such as material sorters, truck drivers, dispatchers, chemists etc. Many of these jobs pay above the average national salary. The location of these recycling areas is in urban areas where jobs are more scarse.
Recycling & Politics
We are used to periphrase recycling within the environmental understanding. Nevertheless, it has a very extensive inclusion. Not only does it find solutions to the economic and environmental issues, but it has a fundamental reason to be included in political and ethical issues as well. If we recycle, it means we love the social grouping we are part of. Seen in a broader perspective, we can say that Recycling is patriotic.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things,but not better things.
We’ve cleaned up the air (at least trying to), but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.”
Recycling can be creative. All we need is a little effort into taking action in our everyday life. No matter where we are, either at home, at the office or anywhere else, we can make a difference even by starting small. If you don’t know where or how to start doing your part, here are some tips for all of us, as members of this gigantic community called Planet Earth.
Tip 1 – How to start
Every effort counts. If we think that difference can be made only through a massive campaign, we are wrong. The estimated population of planet Earth is about 7.2 billion. Now imagine if each one of us picks up every day a plastic bottle to recycle, we would have 7.2 billions of bottles recycled every day. And that, my fellow citizens, is making a huge difference.
Once we start recycling our used products, things that we have control over whether at home, car, hotel room etc… then we can expand our sphere of influence through our relatives or friends. So remember to take one step at a time. Start small!
Tip 2 – Reduce & Reuse
As a matter of fact, recycling is enlisted as third in the Waste Reduction Hierarchy. Our first approach towards the conservation of the environment has to be in reducing our consumption. It is common logic, if we consume less, we produce less waste. In cases when consumption is unavoidable, we should think about reusing before recycling the remaining materials. Automatically less items will need reprocessing (recycling) before they can be used again.
If the above mentioned ways are not applicable, buying recycled products is the next best thing. Look out for the recycling symbols on items made out of recycled materials, or items that are designed for recycling.
Tip 3 – At home
We can find at home all sorts of products that can be recycled. For example our everyday consumables.
Tip 4 – At the workplace
At the office we can find plenty of materials that can be recycled. Even though technology has evolved on such a high level that we can eliminate the usage of paper, it is still a matter of trust between “the man and the machine”. Said that, we feel the need to emphasize the initiative to use as less paper as possible, consequently saving as many trees as possible.
Another avoidable item is the plastic cup used to drink water or coffee. Both can be easily avoided by using bio-degradable materials.