Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The recovery of energy from waste materials is often included in this concept. The recyclability of a material depends on its ability to reacquire the properties it had in its original state. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. It can also prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reducing energy use, air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from land filling).
Recycling saves energy and prevents extraction of raw materials, helping to combat climate change. It also helps reduce waste, and therefore pollution. Recycling reduces environmental impact as a whole, contributing to a “green” mentality and more sustainable lifestyles overall.
BENEFITS OF RECYCLING
- When an item is recycled, it is processed and turned into something new, rather than either creating something out of raw material, or having the item that is being disposed of to be treated as waste in a landfill
- Recycling with the purpose of creating something new generally uses less energy than creating a product from raw materials
- Recycling aluminum is especially energy efficient. Using aluminum scraps to make aluminum cans saves 95% the amount of energy that would be used to make an aluminum can from raw materials. Producing 40 aluminum cans requires the amount of energy in one gallon of gasoline; this can be significantly decreased by using recycled aluminum scraps.
- The less energy used to produce a good, the fewer greenhouse gases are emitted in the process. This is excellent for climate change, as greenhouse gas emissions are driving factors in the current climate crisis.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
- Buy products made from recycled materials! This will support the market for recycled items, and encourage the continued recycling of materials and production of items made from recycled materials
- Recycle everything that you can! Learn exactly what is recyclable and be sure to recycle everything that is.
- Limit the amount of disposable items you are purchasing in the first place in order to reduce production of disposable items.
- Swap out disposable items for reusable items!
Reducing waste, recycling and composting are effective ways to decrease the generation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. They achieve these benefits in two ways:
- By helping save energy in the processing of materials for industrial and consumer use, and
- By reducing the flow of materials — especially food and other organic wastes — into landfills where anaerobic decomposition produces methane.
Recycling has well-documented benefits for the planet and can reduce carbon emissions. It is one of the easier climate-friendly acts individuals can undertake, and it reduces the extraction of raw materials. Recycling cannot solve the problem of climate change but it can go a long way to help reduce the effects of climate change. Let’s all do our parts, recycle materials, use recycled materials and protect the environment.
By Farydah Ahmed