Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling

Many of us feel overwhelmed by the tern ‘recycling’. Recycling is nothing but process of using old or waste products into new products. It makes us feel proud of taking an important step towards reducing pollution and recycling is a fun activity especially when done in groups. Surprisingly, recycling process may not always be beneficial and has shocking effects, unknown to most of us.

Recycling helps to reduce energy usage, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce air pollution and water pollution (from land filling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal and also reduces greenhouse gases emissions. Before taking the bold step of recycling, it is crucial to understand the good and bad involved in this process.

Advantages of Recycling

1. Protects Environment: The foremost benefit or recycling is that it helps in protecting the environment in the most balanced manner. While many trees are cut down continually, recycled paper made from certain trees is re-used repeatedly to minimize felling/ deforestation. With re-cycled paper as an outstanding example, a number of other natural resources can be reused this way.

2. Reduces Energy Consumption: A large amount of energy is consumed by processing raw materials at the time of manufacture.  Recycling helps to minimize energy consumption, which is crucial for massive production, such mining or refining. This also makes the production process very cost-effective and beneficial for manufacturers.

3. Reduces Pollution: Industrial waste today is the main source of all types of pollution. Recycling of industrial products such as cans, chemical, plastics helps to cut down pollution levels considerably, as these materials are re-used, instead of throwing them away irresponsibly.

4: Reduces Global Warming: Recycling helps to alleviate global warming and its ill effects. Massive waste is burned in heaps which produces large amount of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 and CFC’s. Recycling ensure that the burning process is minimized and any waste is re-generated as a useful product with no or  minimal harmful impact on the environment. Recycling produces less greenhouse gases as  industries burn fewer fossil fuels for eco-friendly products.

5. Judicious and Sustainable use of Resources: Recycling promotes judicial and sustainable use of resources. This process ensures that there is no discriminate use of any material when available in plenty in the present. Recycling is encouraged at all levels, starting from school to corporate offices and at international levels. This means we can preserve all precious resources for our future generation, without any compromise in the present.

6. Conserves Natural Resources: If old and used materials are not recycled, the new products are made from extracting fresh raw materials from beneath the earth through mining and extraction. Recycling helps in conserving important raw materials and protects natural habitats for the future. Conserving natural resources such as wood, water and minerals ensures its optimum use.

7. Reduces Amount of Waste to Landfills: Recycling old and waste products into new products reduces the amount of waste that go to landfills. This helps in reducing water and land pollution as landfills are a major source in contributing to destruction of natural environment. Recycling programs keep 70 tons of waste from being deposited into landfills every year.

8. Create Green Jobs: Recycling is good for the environment and apart from that it also creates green jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, green goods and services accounted for 3.1 million jobs in the United States by 2010.

Disadvantages of Recycling

1. Not always Cost Effective: Recycling is not always cost-effective. Sometimes, there may be a need to establish separate factories to process reusable products. This may create more pollution as they would go under the process of cleaning, storage and transportation.

2. Recycled Products May not Last for Long: Recycled products are always not of durable quality. Such items are mostly made of trashed waste,  picked up from heaps other waste products which are of  fragile  or overly used. For this reason, recycled products are cheap and last for a shorter period.

3. Unsafe and Unhygienic Recycling Sites: Recycling sites are often unsafe and unhygienic. Places where all sorts of waste is dumped are conducive for debris formation and spread of disease and other dangers caused by harmful chemicals and waste. This not only causes widespread pollution but is harmful for dedicated people who recycle such products. Such waste if mixed with water, leads to leach ate formation and leads to toxification of water bodies including drinking water.

4. Not widespread on Large Scale: Although recycling is an important step to minimize pollution, unfortunately this process is just a small part of long-term success. Recycling often occurs at a small scale- homes or schools and has failed to be useful at a large level such as at industries or holistically at a global stage. Saving paper at schools cannot be compared to oil spills or massive tree felling at at industrial level.

5. High Initial Cost: Setting up new recycling unit involves high cost. This huge cost can come up as a part of acquiring different utility vehicles, upgrading the processing facility, educating residents by organizing seminars and other programs, disposing of existing waste and chemicals etc.

After weighing, the pros and cons of recycling, one can wisely take crucial steps involved in this process. Understanding the impact of recycling is essential on a large-scale which if done effectively can bring in massive positive results, beneficial to mutual existence of human beings and environment.

Image credit: imeleven , U.S. Army


Earth911 , Reduce Reuse Recycle


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.