Climaneed blog - What is the Real Environmental Impact of Recycling?

What is the Real Environmental Impact of Recycling?

Our reliance on plastic is harming our environment significantly. The one-time-use plastic, especially, ends up in the landfill and stays there for more than 400 years. Plastic and other non-biodegradable materials produce many toxic gases, one of which is methane. It pollutes the environment and is one of the most significant contributors to global warming. The waste can be burned, but that is also a toxic process, as it produces dioxins and other chemicals that lead to acid rain. 

The worst part is that these gases release toxins that make the environment carcinogenic, posing the biggest health threat to human and animal life. While the government and we, as individuals, are doing everything in our power to reduce waste production, these methods are often ineffective. That’s where recycling comes into the picture. Considering the volume of waste ending up in landfills every year, it goes without saying that recycling plays a crucial role in saving our planet. Do you know 80% of household trash consists of recyclable items, which can be easily recycled and re-purposed? A considerable amount of the waste thrown into the garbage doesn’t belong there.

Surprisingly, nearly all types of products we use every day can be recycled. Even plastic can be recycled. All we need to do is classify the waste into recyclable and non-recyclable categories. As a general rule, every item — from clothing to electronics to batteries and plastic — is recyclable.

Reduse, Reuse, Recycle.

Impacts of Recycling on Our Environment

Recycled paper alone reduces air pollution by up to 73%, according to a report published by the University of Central Oklahoma. In fact, recycled steel cuts 97% of the waste produced during the manufacturing process. It also reduces water and air pollution. Nothing hurts the environment more than throwing non-biodegradable waste into landfills. 

The waste can’t be decomposed properly, as this type of waste takes centuries to decompose. Till then, it harms wildlife, humans, and the environment in general. Add to this the vast amount of the space this waste takes up in the landfill, and you will know how non-biodegradable waste alone is the biggest cause of concern for environmentalists. Take a glass bottle, for example. It takes as much as 4,000 years to decompose properly. Now, think about the hundreds of thousands of water bottles tossed in landfills. The more plastic waste accumulates on the ground, the larger the space is needed for creating landfills. This clarifies that even if the water bottles or other plastic waste is decomposed, the rubbish left behind on the waste ground means the land can’t be re-used for throwing more trash. 

Recycling doesn’t only mean less waste ending up in landfills, but it helps the environment by saving the finite resources that are depleting rapidly. Think about it — constant recycling of the used products will save up to a thousand pounds of coal and up to 40 pounds of limestone from being mined.

You’d be surprised to know that up to one-third of the space in the landfill consists of packaging materials. This is avoidable. Avoiding packaging material altogether or switching to biodegradable packing items instead of plastic will offer immediate benefit to our planet. Even though people are doing everything they can to take part in recycling, a considerable volume of metals and other recyclable items are unnecessarily tossed into landfills. 

Let’s check out a few essential benefits of recycling.

Conserve Natural Resources

Digging natural resources unnecessarily will increase the volume of waste collected in the landfill. It results in the faster depletion of the resources. There is no point in using more resources than necessary when certain items can be re-used and recycled. For instance, recycling paper can save trees that are solely being cut for the production of paper. 

Instead of being thrown away after one use, the notebooks and other paper should be sent to the recycling center. Not only will it save natural resources, but it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as more trees in the forests mean lesser carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials. The same products are being re-used over and over again (whether for making the same products or for other purposes). 

It Conserves Energy

The best thing about recycling is that it conserves energy. Take aluminum production, for example. If we use the used cans and foil for the production of aluminum, it would require 95% less energy for the production than if we made it from scratch. That’s a significant amount of energy saved through recycling. The same goes for steel. Production of steel from the used products needs 70% less energy as compared to the steel produced from raw materials. That’s because mining, drilling, manufacturing, and other activities need a considerable amount of energy. This also means less pressure on the electrical outlet. 

Prevents Climate Change

Climate change has become a prevalent condition worldwide. The sudden change in the climate affects crops, plants, and our health significantly. Recycling doesn’t only conserve our resources, but it plays a vital role in preventing climate crises. We have already mentioned how landfills produce a large volume of toxic gases, like methane. In addition to harming the wildlife, methane is bad for the climate. The lesser the waste generating methane is thrown in the landfill, the better for the climate. 

Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emission

Another major advantage of recycling is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If you don’t recycle this waste, it will get combusted. As a result, this waste will emit carbon dioxide, methane, and other harmful gases that pollute the environment and lead to global warming. 

The emission reduction is only possible if the waste thrown into the landfill is categorized into recyclable and non-recyclable waste items. This will give you a clear picture of which waste can be sent to the recycling center and which must be thrown away. For example, certain types of plastic wastes can be recycled, but most of them are not fit for recycling. 

Reduces Air Pollution

Mining and drilling are two of the biggest contributors to the growing air pollution, which results in global warming. Recycling more products means lesser digging for natural resources. It also means fewer products going to the manufacturing unit where tons of toxic chemicals are used for converting the raw materials into finished products. It also reduces energy usage. Recycling centers can produce many items from the used products. As a result, it prevents air pollution, as less coal and fuel are burnt.

Reduce Waste in the Landfill

Then again, landfill overflow has become the most prevalent and the biggest problem in the world. With a large volume of plastic dumped into landfills, we need more and more space for landfills. This vast amount of waste accumulated on the ground leads to water and air pollution. If we don’t find a solution soon, the landfill overflow will keep damaging the environment. As a result, we might run out of space for landfills. 

Do you know that 60-75 percent of the landfill consists of waste that can be recycled? This shows us the amount of waste that can be reduced if everybody starts sending waste to the recycling center instead of throwing it away. In addition, every ounce of trash discarded in the landfill increase the requirement for keeping more land in landfills. It results in the waste of resources. 

Preserves the Wildlife and Forests

Every year, a large number of trees are being cut for many industrial purposes. Deforestation has become quite prevalent and one of the biggest problems for wildlife. That’s one of the many reasons why most species, some of which are not even discovered, are declared extinct. Forests play an important role in preserving wildlife and reducing carbon emissions. By recycling more and more waste items, we can save the trees and reduce deforestation to a great degree. It will preserve natural habitats and reduce the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

We Can Make a Difference

At this point, everyone knows that our goal to make Earth environment-friendly can only be achieved if everyone contributes together. A person alone can’t make a difference. Everyone needs to participate in order to reduce the amount of waste being thrown into the landfill, especially the materials that can be easily recycled. 

Considering the several benefits of recycling, it goes without saying that even a small contribution from each household can save several tons of waste from ending up in the landfill. It will reduce carbon emissions, air pollution, and climate change. From a business point of view, recycling doesn’t only benefit the environment, but it helps us save money in the long run. Buying what we need and re-using the used products means a lesser amount spent on new products. In fact, you can make money by sending certain products to the recycling center. So, what are you waiting for? It’s the easiest way to do your part for the planet. 

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