Recycling is the process of repurposing previously used materials to create brand new ones. Waste can be recycled and repurposed, resulting in energy and raw material savings.
Our finite natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate as a result of the continuously increasing population and the widespread use of disposable products and packaging.
Currently, less than 25 percent of our waste is recycled, with the remainder being buried or incinerated in landfills, according to government statistics. When we consider that we could be reusing and/or recycling more than 70% of the waste we generate, this appears to be absurd.
The majority of the items we use in our daily lives, including aluminum cans, aluminum foil and bakeware, steel and tin cans used for soups and coffee, cardboard (including milk and juice cartons), magazines, office and newspaper, phone books, most glass products, plastic bottles, jars, and jugs, car and household batteries, light bulbs, electronics, and even food, can all be recycled. To learn more about recycling, visit www.recycle.gov.
If half of all Americans recycled on a regular basis, it would have the same effect as removing 25 million cars from the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
We could reduce the exploitation of natural resources, save money, reduce pollution and waste, as well as create jobs and stimulate the economy, if we recycled more.
This article will go over the numerous advantages of recycling, including the environmental and economic advantages of doing so.
1. Preserves Natural Resources & Prevents Habitat Destruction
Many natural resources on this planet are finite, which means they are limited and will run out at some point in the future. The preservation of these natural resources is a top priority for those who are concerned about the long-term availability of natural resources for human consumption.
We can reduce our consumption of natural resources by repurposing old products and packaging to create new products and packaging materials. Preventing waste from being generated in the first place, through source reduction, can reduce the need for disposal even further and save even more resources.
When recycled materials are used, they can produce products that are superior to those made from virgin materials. To give an example, the tin in bimetallic cans becomes more refined and valuable as a result of being processed for recycling.
Recycling steel saves 40 pounds of limestone, 1000 pounds of coal, and 2,500 pounds of iron ore for every ton of steel that is recycled. By recycling tin, we can reduce the demand for raw materials, which in turn reduces the need for mining and the pollution that results from it.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Natural Resources, in 2005 the state saved 1.4 million tons of iron ore, 829,786 tons of coal, and 71,124 tons of limestone by recycling over 1.2 million tons of steel.
When land disturbances and pollution associated with mining and the extraction of new materials are minimized, the degradation of natural ecosystems and wildlife habitats is reduced as a result of these efforts.
Indirectly, paper recycling contributes to the preservation and biodiversity of forests by reducing the demand for wood.
Historically, the longleaf pine forest in the southern United States covered 90 million acres; however, today, less than five percent of that area remains as a result of the harvesting of mature longleaf pine for the manufacture of wood, paper, and other paper products.
The longleaf pine forest is home to more than 20 endangered species, all of which can be found in the forest. In addition to reducing the pressure on the remaining longleaf pine forest and preserving habitat for these endangered species, recycling paper and paper products helps to protect the environment.
2. Creates Jobs & Benefits the Economy
Recycling contributes significantly to the economy by ensuring that waste is re-used and reduced to the greatest extent possible.
The number of jobs in waste management is one for every four jobs in recycling, according to studies. Following the recycling process, even more jobs are created as a result of the creation of new goods from recycled materials.
According to estimates from the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, the recycling and remanufacturing industries generate more than $1 billion in revenue and support hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs. Jobs range from high-quality product manufacturing to materials handling and processing, and they can be filled by workers with a variety of skill levels ranging from low- to high-skilled.
As reported by the most recent Census Bureau data, recycling and reuse activities in the United States created 757,000 jobs in 2007, generated $36.6 billion in wages, and generated $6.7 billion dollars in tax revenues.
If you want to put these figures into context, for every 1,000 tons of recycled material produced, 1.57 jobs are created with an average wage of $76,030 and $14,101 in local and state tax revenue is generated.
As a result of recycling and reuse, communities save money on waste handling, landfill production, and incineration costs associated with burning garbage. This is because waste is recycled and reused rather than being disposed of in landfills.
It is possible to create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, recycled, and remanufactured into new products by purchasing recycled products and packaging. In this way, a closed loop system is created, which lowers the costs of recycling.
3. Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, & Preserves Landfill Space
Waste reduction occurs because manufacturers reuse materials rather than creating new ones, which saves energy. Additionally, by avoiding landfill incinerator incineration, toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases are prevented from being released into the atmosphere.
Through the recycling of hazardous waste, it is prevented from reaching landfills, where it has the potential to contaminate water sources through seepage, as has been observed in the past.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that landfills and industrial impoundments contaminate surface aquifers by leaching metals, minerals, explosives, bacteria, viruses, and other toxic substances into the groundwater and groundwater.
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Per Stanford University, the amount of energy wasted each year by disposing of recyclable materials such as aluminum cans and newspapers is equal to the annual output of 15 nuclear power plants.
For every ton of recycled newsprint produced, 1.7 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, 4.6 cubic yards of landfill space, 601 kilowatts of energy, and 60 pounds of air pollutants are saved from being released into the atmosphere. Recycling newsprint also saves 4.6 cubic yards of landfill space.
Recycling newsprint prevents the release of 9.0 barrels of oil, 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, 601 kilowatts of energy, and 60 pounds of air pollutants by reducing the amount of new newsprint produced.
Plastic waste recycling saves 16.3 barrels of oil, 5,774 kilowatts of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space for every ton of plastic recycled.
For every ton of glass recycled, 0.12 barrels of oil, 42 kilowatts of energy, and 2 cubic yards of landfill space are saved, and 7.5 pounds of air pollutants are prevented from being released into the atmosphere. Glass recycling also saves money because it is environmentally friendly.
It takes just one recycled glass bottle to save enough energy to run a light bulb for four hours.
When aluminum is recycled, 95 percent of the energy required to produce the same amount of aluminum from a virgin source is saved, resulting in significant energy savings. Recyclable aluminum saves 40 barrels of oil, 14,000 kilowatts of energy, and ten cubic yards of landfill space for every ton of aluminum recycled.
Recycling should appear to be a no-brainer in light of this type of information.
As you can see, recycling helps to reduce pollution, conserve resources, save energy, promote the economy, and create jobs. Recycling is also good for the environment.
When we only recycle a quarter of the waste that we generate, we are not only wasting precious natural resources and polluting the environment, but we are also essentially wasting energy and destroying land and habitats in order to generate even more energy to waste and pollute the environment.
But there is a solution and a way to mitigate the problem of waste, which is one of the most concerning environmental and overall health concerns facing human beings. Consider the environment, your own family’s well-being, as well as the health of future generations, and reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as you possibly can.
To ensure that waste is recycled and to protect the environment for future generations, we must take responsibility for our actions today. By instilling the values of recycling into our own lives, the lives of our communities, and the lives of our children, we can raise awareness of the importance of waste prevention and recycling.
If you have any suggestions for recycling, please add them to the discussion in the comments section.