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How Do We Benefit From Recycling?

The percentage of goods that we recycle has increased in recent years with a bigger focus on saving the environment and making environmentally friendly choices. Education around recycling has raised awareness of why it is important to recycle, and the government aim to increase the percentage of household goods that are recycled to 65% by 2035. The UK is currently falling behind many countries in Europe when it comes to their recycling figures, and it is clear that more has to be done to improve recycling in the country. Recycling household waste and industrial waste has a number of benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the positive impact that recycling can have:

Recycling Conserves Resources and Reduces the Need for Raw Materials

The products that we use every day are made from materials that are natural resources harvested around the planet. If products are reused and recycled, then there is less need for new products, meaning that fewer raw materials are taken from the planet. This ensures that the environment is better protected and supports plant and animal life through their habitats being protected.

Think about the materials that you use every day – letters, cardboard boxes and some food packaging is made from paper, for which trees are harvested around the world. When vast forests are chopped down, habitats are destroyed, and animals lose their lives, on top of this, it has an impact on the planets oxygen levels. Recycling paper can help combat this.

Reusing things like plastic containers and carrier bags will mean that less plastic has to be produced. This is great as one of the key ingredients in the process is fossil fuel – a limited resource.

This is a similar story for both metal and glass, which use dwindling raw materials in their manufacturing processes, such as some types of sand or the metal itself, which has to be mined and extracted from the other earth. These substances are finite, with it becoming more difficult to source them, so reusing objects around our home helps reduce the demand for new products.

This is especially important considering that many of the raw materials needed for making products are sourced from countries where people are living in poverty. Due to the mining or sourcing of raw materials, some are exploited, forced to move or are negatively impacted by industrial pollution. For example, some vulnerable groups who work in mining are paid extremely low wages and work in poor conditions with no safety equipment.

Recycling Saves Energy

It takes more energy to create a product from scratch using raw materials than it does to recycle already existing products. When creating a new product, the raw materials have to be sourced, extracted, processed and taken to manufacturing plants, and this alone has a huge carbon footprint, using a lot of energy. When recycling products, there is no need for sourcing new materials as they are already made.

When recycling metals such as aluminium, for example, when recycling the material rather than making new products, around 95% less energy is used, which has a significant positive impact on the planet. Recycling paper by breaking it down and making recycled products rather than using new wood from scratch uses 40% less energy.

Recycling Helps Protect The Environment

Let’s be honest, the planet is suffering due to global warming, limited resources, higher CO2 emissions and pollution. When recycling, the need for extracting these limited resources is decreased, while manufacturing emissions and the pollution that they cause is decreased due to less demand. Studies have shown that the current rate of recycling within the UK stops around 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

With reduced output, industries are less likely to leak harmful chemicals or pesticides into water sources or the ground, reducing pollution and protecting the safety of animals and humans.

Recycling Reduces The Amount of Waste Sent To Landfill

When we send our household or industrial waste to landfills, it leads to the surrounding land being polluted and more greenhouse gases being released as products break down over time. The U.K. has over 500 active landfill sites, with even more non-active but still housing tonnes of waste. Studies from the early 2000s showed that at the time, around 25% of methane emissions in the country came from landfills. While this picture may have improved as we have bettered our recycling habits, the issue will not have been fully rectified, meaning it is still a concerning statistic.

Recycling Is A Cheaper Option

When it comes to how we get rid of our waste, sending it to landfills is a pricey option for local governments who deal with refuse collection. It was discovered that disposing of normal waste was up to six times more expensive than dealing with the recycling of household products. This puts less strain on local councils, allowing them to focus their spending on other areas that will benefit communities. Additionally, recycling garden and food waste is a great way to create compost that can be used as natural fertiliser, boosting food production without the cost and risk of using expensive chemical based products.

Setting a Good Impression

For us to make an impactful change on the planet, it is important to have as many people are possible making an effort. Setting a good impression on others – be it your children, friends, or family is a great way to promote meaningful change. Learning how to recycle effectively will mean that you can be on hand to offer some advice to others should they need it.

The Take Away

Living sustainably is key to ensuring that our planet survives for future generations, and recycling is a great way to make easy bit positive changes to our daily routine. Reducing the amount of waste that we send to landfills has a number of positive impacts both environmentally and ethically around the world, but particularly in developing countries where many natural materials are cultivated or extracted.

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