Just how does recycling help the environment?

There are a number of ways in which recycling has a positive impact on the environment. We are all encouraged to recycle but it is not always clear as to why we should. In this blog we look at the impact that some of ours actions can have on the environment.

Reduces landfill

As more and more waste is put into landfills, what is already a large environmental issue gets even bigger. Non-biodegradable products that are slow to decompose can remain in landfill sites for centuries, often emitting gases that are harmful to the environment. Simply keeping paper out of the landfills is a major step forward in helping to fix the landfill issue so separating our waste even further can only be positive.

Reduces energy consumption

Manufacturing items from new sources uses more energy than using recycled items. For example making paper using recycled pulp uses much less energy than using new wood. In another example the amount of energy saved in recycling a glass bottle can power a computer for 25 minutes.

Conserves natural resources

Indiscriminate use of already declining natural resources can be greatly arrested by recycling. Iron ore is a fast depleting natural resource which can be saved by recycling steel. Additionally crude oil is utilised to make plastics so recycling products made from plastic means that valuable fossil fuels can be re-directed to other purposes.

Decreases pollution

Landfill waste pollutes the environment by emitting gas as it rots. Simply reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill will reduce the pollution this causes. The act of recycling products also typically emits less carbon, thus reducing the carbon footprint of a product.

Reduces costs

Using recycled goods is often an effective way of reducing costs. For example, simply recycling leaves and grass is a great way to make compost which is obviously a lot cheaper than buying it! The more money we can save by recycling, ultimately the more likely we are to support the cause.

Reduces habitat destruction

The effect of cutting down on the use of new products in manufacture reflects positively on habitats and global warming. It’s imperative that the rate of deforestation is slowed and reducing the need for raw materials will assist in the preservation of areas such as the rainforest.

Recycling improves the soil

We’ve already mentioned people creating their own compost but the benefits are even greater than simply reducing landfill and costs. Organic waste is rich in carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients which enrich soil. This encourages beneficial organisms and reduces the need for artificial fertilisers and other enhancers.

Improves employment prospects

As well as reducing carbon footprint there is an argument that recycling could also help the job market. For example, research in the United States suggests that if 75% of the country’s garbage were to be recycled this would create employment for around 1.5 million people. Recycling effectively requires a number of processes and manpower at each stage.

Some countries have been more pro-active than others in embracing extensive recycling programmes. In Sweden 90% of household rubbish is converted into renewable energy. Indeed, Sweden’s trash management has been so effective that there has been a shortage of garbage to recycle. The knock on effect has been that neighbouring Norway now actually exports waste to Sweden.

Recycling represents just one way in which we can help the environment. But, it is an effective one and one which we can actively influence. Instilling these measures into children will help to ensure that moving forward, effective recycling becomes second nature, stabilising the environment for generations to come.