Recycling waste materials, wastewater, and wasted energy is a locally accessible and highly desirable method of reducing greenhouse gases, despite not being at the forefront of tackling climate change.
But, how positive or negative are the effects of recycling on the environment?
About 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions from the overall waste sector are caused by methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that is released through landfills and wastewater.
We have long recognized that diverting waste destined for landfills and using it for something useful is an apparent and effective way to conserve land and resources; we may now add the information that these activities also contribute to climate protection, according to research.
Table of Contents
What is Recycling?
Recycling is the process of gathering and converting resources into new goods that would otherwise be thrown away as waste.
According to the US EPA,
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.
Consider the following scenario: a raw product, such as an aluminum can, is collected and transported to a processing facility (e.g. aluminum).
The new product is then made from raw materials, resulting in energy, time, and cost savings. This is critical to lowering landfill waste levels, which contaminate the soil, water, and air of the planet.
Natural resources, or materials that arise naturally and are utilized to create products, such as when we use trees to make paper, are preserved in part through recycling.
We run the risk of exhausting (using up) our natural resources if we don’t recycle and reuse them.
There are numerous various forms of trash in your trash can, as you would observe but, recyclable materials are limited.
Recyclable items include
- Glass, including glass produced using the Float Glass Process, such as glass used in windshields, gets melted and reformed.
- Cardboard is simple to disassemble and turn into new cardboard.
- Aluminum is shredded and melted at aluminum recycling plants to create new products like cans.
What to Discard
- Styrofoam cannot be recycled even though its decomposition releases dioxins into the air.
- Glass light bulbs end up in landfills because most recycling facilities lack the equipment necessary to separate the glass from the elements within.
- Because they need special separating and processing equipment that most recycling operations don’t have, plastic bags wind up in landfills.
Effects of Recycling on the Environment
The following are some of the effects of recycling on the environment
1. Recycle Reduces Pollution
Recycling aids in reducing ground and water pollution as well as air pollution (from cremation, for example) (e.g. from landfills).
Additionally, it lessens the number of greenhouse gases released into the sky, aiding in the fight against climate change.
2. Recycling Promotes Environmental Protection
Recycling is turning used products into new materials at the end of their useful lives, which helps to save the environment, natural resources, and our planet. For instance, a soda-can can be made again and used again.
Over 95% less energy is used in the recycling process than in the production of new cans from scratch.
3. Recycling Conserves Natural Resources & Energy
Recycling makes guarantees that the initial energy and raw materials required to create goods and products are not wasted.
It also lessens the need to treat raw materials and extract, refine, and use new resources.
Recycling-based manufacturing preserves the planet’s finite natural resources by employing recycled materials in place of trees, metal ores, minerals, oil, and other raw materials extracted from the earth.
This conservation lessens the need to increase mining and logging operations. Producing goods from recovered materials instead of raw materials requires a great deal less energy, which reduces the need to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.
4. Through Recycle less Waste is Produced
Landfills are a popular option for those who want to dispose of their trash, yet they contain items that can be recycled. Products can be used to their utmost extent thanks to recycling.
The majority of objects that are thrown away have hardly ever been utilized and are only being done so because they are no longer useful. Up to 75% of all waste is thought to be recyclable or reusable.
5. Recycling Cuts Down on Waste Dumped in Landfills
Recycling helps us send less trash to landfills. Waste that is left to fester in landfills releases greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide like methane as it decomposes, which adds to global warming. It also seeps pollutants into the soil and groundwater.
6. Recycling Keeps Oxygen Levels Stable
People frequently take paper for granted. It’s what we use to study and communicate at work or in the classroom. Most of it comes from trees that are uprooted and used to stuff books and wrap gifts.
Recycling paper is a simple method to contribute to keeping the world’s oxygen levels stable, which is especially important given the present, unprecedented rise of global warming.
The New York Times needs to cut down 75,000 trees each time it prints its Sunday edition in order to create the many pages.
Since a single tree may create more than 260 pounds of oxygen, producing new paper from recycled materials reduces the loss of oxygen from forests.
7. Recycling Protects Natural Habitats
More than just less oxygen in the air is lost when trees are cut down to manufacture new paper. Because of the loss of forests, also destroys natural habitats.
Climate change has already caused a population catastrophe in the animal kingdom, which is made worse by humans cutting down their food and shelter supplies like trees.
8. Recycling Purifies the Seas
Even if eight million metric tons of plastic can be recycled, it still enters the water and harms marine life every year.
If it’s not plastic drink rings and bottles that are stuffing the stomachs of defenseless marine life, then microplastics must be causing even the smallest animal harm.
Recycling aids in preventing the ocean’s entanglement with plastic waste.
9. Recycling lowers Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
Recycling lowers emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, which contribute to global climate change.
Does Recycling have Negative Effects?
Recycling undoubtedly has certain drawbacks, one of which is that the majority of people believe that it is too expensive, time-consuming, or labor-intensive to be put into practice.
Additionally, recycling can actually increase greenhouse gas emissions if it is not done properly. In numerous nations where recycling is performed, this has proven a concern.
As we have seen recycling mean good for our environment but its limitation is that its expensive to use and when proper funds are not being apportioned to it, the effects on the environment would cause more harm than good. So, it all boils down to a large adaptation of recycling and increased funding in the sector.
Effects of Recycling on the Environment – FAQs
Why is recycling important?
Waste reduction includes recycling as a fundamental strategy. Recycling reduces energy use. Recycling aids in combating climate change while also conserving raw materials, reducing litter, pollution, and the need for landfill space, as well as generating jobs, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, reducing poverty, and promoting community involvement.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.