How Recycling Benefits The Environment
All About Recycling
How Recycling Benefits The Environment
In today’s fast-paced and stressful times, the environment too bears the heavy brunt of our wasteful, filthy and irresponsible behavior. But, instead of simply whining about how dirty our air or water is, or just complaining why the government is not doing enough to protect our natural resources, we can actually make a difference by planting trees or taking care of our forests, as well as by recycling at homes, our offices and workplaces. Here’s a look at how recycling helps protect the environment.
Which Materials Are Recyclable?
Recycling refers to the process or re-processing and using used materials, into new products, Recycling helps in preventing the waste of potentially-useful materials or components, and helps in reducing air and water pollution, and aids in the lowering of dangerous greenhouse gas emissions too.
Recyclable materials come in different kinds, from paper, glass, metal, plastic, to textiles and other electronic components. Most cities and towns today have collection centers for recyclable materials, where these items are cleaned, sorted, and re-processed into new products and materials.
Recycling Reduces Contamination, As Well as The Need for New Landfills
Recycling provides a number of wonderful benefits for both man and the environment. It helps reduce the amount of garbage disposed in landfills, as well as reduces the need for building new landfills. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that there are over 10,000 municipal landfills, and more than 3,000 active urban landfills. Because most of today’s modern landfills are tightly sealed, to protect the environment from possible contamination, they actually inhibit the natural degradation of organic waste materials.
For example, if we recycle all of the newspapers we use, we could actually help prolong the use of each landfill, as well as save millions of trees from being cut down. Recycling also helps reduce the level of contamination of hazardous chemicals and components, which are often found in old computers, cellular phones, toys, TV monitors and other electronic products. Old computer monitors for example contain as much as eight pounds of lead.
Once these harmful substances leach into the soil and underground water, they further spread and contaminate streams, rivers, and water wells, and also taint the fish and other seafood we consume.
Recycling Helps Save Precious Natural Resources
The act of recycling, even within your own home or office, can actually help save precious natural resources. If your recycle old newspapers, junk mail, cardboard, Styrofoam and other materials, you help protect the air, and help save trees from being cut down. Recycling plastic products such as soda bottles, milk, juice and bottled water containers also lessens the need for new petroleum to make these kinds of plastic products.
To help protect the planet, here are a few simple steps that you can follow. Buy only recycled products, and avoid using fax cover sheets as copy materials. You can also print double-sided, or send electronic copies instead of paper. You can also actively promote or initiate a recycling program in your office or community.
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Recycling is a process to change materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for "conventional" waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" waste hierarchy.
Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste—such as food or garden waste—is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.
In the strictest sense, recycling of a material would produce a fresh supply of the same material—for example, used office paper would be converted into new office paper, or used foamed polystyrene into new polystyrene. However, this is often difficult or too expensive (compared with producing the same product from raw materials or other sources), so "recycling" of many products or materials involves their reuse in producing different materials (e.g., paperboard) instead. Another form of recycling is the salvage of certain materials from complex products, either due to their intrinsic value (e.g., lead from car batteries, or gold from computer components), or due to their hazardous nature (e.g., removal and reuse of mercury from various items). Critics dispute the net economic and environmental benefits of recycling over its costs, and suggest that proponents of recycling often make matters worse and suffer from confirmation bias. Specifically, critics argue that the costs and energy used in collection and transportation detract from (and outweigh) the costs and energy saved in the production process; also that the jobs produced by the recycling industry can be a poor trade for the jobs lost in logging, mining, and other industries associated with virgin production; and that materials such as paper pulp can only be recycled a few times before material degradation prevents further recycling. Proponents of recycling dispute each of these claims, and the validity of arguments from both sides has led to enduring controversy.
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