Recycling is not a single action but is a process that has many different stages. The first stage is the collection of waste materials that can be recycled, the next stage is the collection and sorting of these materials, and the final stage is their appearance as brand-new products to be used by the consumer.
Recycling though is not just about sending things off to be reprocessed and reused. It is better if we do not have to send these items for recycling in the first place, and this doesn’t mean sending them off to landfill. We can reduce our consumption of material that would go to waste by doing simple things in the home. For example, if you start a compost heap you are going to have less biological waste that will have to go to landfill. Furthermore, instead of recycling plastic bags, you can simply reuse them.
Recycling in the home can go beyond this however and there are plenty more creative ideas that you can use to benefit your home. For example, it is possible to use glass bottles to create lampshades, or candlestick holders. Also, if you are finished with your mobile phone, don’t just throw it away, give it to a friend or family member.
One of the major aims of any recycling programme is to reduce the amount of waste that is being sent to landfill, or being burned in an incinerator. Landfill is a problem because as well as being a blight on the countryside, it can also be risky for people’s health. Landfills have been designed to keep toxic chemicals in, but they are not a perfect system and in some cities people have been reporting contaminated water, with the expected source of the contamination being a nearby landfill.
Burning waste in order to produce electricity might seem like a win-win situation, but it is not a particularly efficient method of power production and the cost is a large amount of carbon dioxide being released into the environment.
Recycling also reduces our impact on our limited resources. There is only a certain amount of some resources available on the planet, such as steel. If people make a good effort to recycle these materials, then the amount that is going to need to be taken out of the Earth is going to be significantly reduced.
It is important that people realise that some resources on the Earth are limited and some of them might even run out in our lifetimes. Many companies which make use of materials that are a scarce resource often go to great lengths to recycle in order to reduce their costs, as well as their impact on the environment. The computing industry is a great example of this as they regularly buyback components that are going to waste.
This recycling also help save energy as the energy required to recycle a product is less than the energy required to make the same product out of raw materials. While this difference is rather small on an individual product basis, when you consider the energy savings of an entire industry then they really do add up.
There are also economic benefits to recycling, for one, recycling creates more jobs than can be found in simply putting waste into landfill or incinerating it. An estimate has shown that for 10,000 tonnes of waste, putting it in landfill will create six jobs, while recycling this waste will generate nearly 40 jobs. If the waste were to be burned, it would only create one job. The benefits of recycling are clear and it is essential that societies across the world embrace it as a way of life and not just an idea.