What is Recycling: Importance and Waste Items That can be Recycled

What is Recycling?

Unfortunately, a majority of our waste find way into lakes, rivers, and oceans. This harms land animals, birds, marine animals and eventually, humans. When storms occur, snow or rain flowing along their natural path headed to rivers, streams, sewerage systems and storm drains carry along garbage littered on its course. The final destination is vast bodies of life supporting waters. This phenomenon can lead to pollution of water sources and outbreak of diseases such as diarrhea and cholera. Recycling is the surefire way of mitigating pollution of life supporting water resources.

To recycle something simply means to use it again. Recycling, therefore, is the process of converting old or used substances into new, useful products instead of dumping them in landfills. Materials most commonly recycled include plastic, paper, glass, and aluminum. A whole lot of other waste can be recycled including plastic bags and electronics. In other words, recycling of old products could produce fresh supply of new same products.

There are a number of recycling variations such as:

Upcycling:  Also referred to as creative reuse. It involves adding value to discarded materials or object so as to create a high-value product from them or a higher value than the original product.

Downcycling:  This recycling process involves breaking down a substance or item into its component elements and materials. After the constituent elements or materials have been salvaged, they are reused, but typically as an inferior product than the original.

Precycling: Is the act of minimizing waste by trying to avoid bringing in items which would encourage accumulation of waste to homes and businesses.

E-cycling: This is the act of reusing or distributing electrical equipment for use instead of disposing of them at the closing stages of their life cycle. The disposed of electronics or electronic components, commonly known as e-waste, creates severe ecological problems due to the toxic elements used in their manufacturer. On numerous occasions, discarded electronic devices like computers and Cell phones are still operational and could be passed along to be utilized by individuals or organizations.

Recycling is good for the environment, in the sense, we are using old and waste products which are of no use and then converting them back to same new products. Since we are saving resources and are sending less trash to the landfills, it helps in reducing air and water pollution.

Energy consumption is also reduced by recycling since less energy is required to make a new make a new glass bottle from a recycled one because it melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials. Basically, recycling serves two purposes: first, it avoid landfills and helps in reducing air and water pollution and secondly, valuable material like aluminum cans and plastic and glass are reused in other forms and not wasted.

Recycling starts from home itself. When you are using a old product to something new, you are actually doing recycling. For eg: when you use plastic milk or juice bottles into magazine holders. At larger level, old consumer goods are collected and processed to make new fresh products out of them. Paper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans are examples of some products that are recycled in large quantities.

3 Steps In Recycling

There are 3 factors which we needs to consider while thinking about how to recycle – ReduceReuse and Recycle. You can reduce the amount of waste by just selecting those products which do minimal waste. Choose products that can be easily recycled, can be used productively and have minimum packaging. Carry hand made bags instead of plastic bags.

Search for the products that are more environment friendly. Give away old items which are not in use or which can not be recycled to poor people. Instead of paper mail subscribe to E-paper. Reuse involves using the items in the other way rather than discarding them.

With this we can certainly increase the life time of that item and also it doesn’t require any special skills or knowledge to reuse those items. It also costs less than purchasing the new product. We can reuse aluminum foils, old magazines, newspapers, old clothes, jars, envelopes, containers. We can also use rechargeable batteries rather than single-use batteries. Eat food in steel plates instead of disposable plates.

Recycle involves use of the old products in homes or offices for further purposes when you have tried reduce and reuse. Look out for different easy for recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass. Buy products that can be easily recycled. Purchase items that are environment friendly and avoid buying hazardous material. Encourage your friends and family to get involved in recycling.

Importance of Recycling

Environmental concerns are rapidly growing by the day, and the entire issue may be overpowering sometimes. We may not be able to change the world and its functional systems entirely, but we can do a lot to reverse negative aspects within our reach. Recycling gives us the perfect opportunity to do good for the environment and its inhabitants. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the importance of recycling waste.

fence-glass-bottles-recycling-arts

  1. Conservation of natural resources

Making new products from waste materials reduces the need to exploit precious resources. For example, cardboards and books are made from trees. Recycling means lots of trees will be preserved thereby reducing over-exploitation and protecting natural habitats.

  1. Reduces pollution as a result of accumulation of landfills

Besides taking up a lot of space, accumulated landfills cause massive pollution. The array of chemicals dumped into landfills and the resultant chemical (known as leachate) when waste material breaks down releases toxic fumes to the atmosphere. Leachate could also drain out of landfills into groundwater supplies. Luckily these days, plastic sheeting and impermeable clay caps mitigate a lot of this drain offs. Impermeable clay caps and plastic sheeting have made landfills a lot safer compared to the way they were many years ago.

  1. Recycling uses up less energy

Debates have raged over the years whether recycling actually uses less energy. The truth is that recycling waste products take up less energy compared to manufacturing new products. For example, plastic manufacture is an extremely expensive pursuit. To add to that, some plastic wastes can be daunting to recycle efficiently. In such a scenario, recycling process would presumably cost a lot. It can also be challenging to determine the energy costs throughout the whole production process.

Steel recycling typically involves less energy expenditure compared to the whole process of iron ore mining, refining and forming new steel. Some individuals argue against low energy requirement for recycling by factoring in the cost of garbage collection tracks that move across neighborhoods week in week out. But the truth is energy expenditure is measured on a case-by-case basis, and the cost of collection doesn’t really impact the total revenue from recycling.

  1. Good source of income

Recycling has a wide range of economic effects. Recycling is the main source of income for companies engaged in recycling. Recycling is also a great reprieve for highly populated cities that have to pay by the ton to dispose of waste in landfills. These cities can significantly cut back on the budget set aside for discarding waste into landfills.

  1. Creation of employment

Recycling contributes immensely to employment in a country. According to statistics by Essential Guide, recycling industry has the capacity to generate up to 3 times as much income as landfills disposal and 6 times as many jobs. A typical example of booming recycling business is the St. Louise area. The recycling industry there contributes to about 16, 000 jobs and an estimated annual revenue of $4 billion.

Waste Items That can be Recycled

Virtually any waste product can be recycled. However, certain things are commonly recycled including:

Paper

The use of paper in industrialized countries is increasing by the day. On numerous cases, it attributes to almost 20% of all household waste. Paper is typically made from trees. Although tree is a renewable resource, old trees are commonly cut down to provide space for pulpwood trees. Pulpwood trees mature quickly, which means they are planted and harvested quickly to manufactured paper. Recycling paper substantially reduces energy and water expenditure including massive environmental pollution associated with paper manufacture.

Glass

Recycling glass offers the greatest possibilities of saving costs and energy compared to manufacturing virgin glass. Why? Because there is almost no down-cycling in the glass recycling process. Glass is recycled in two main ways. Some recycling companies move through neighborhoods to collect bottles from contracted customers. They then rigorously wash and disinfect the glasses before reusing. Other recycling companies take the time to sort the glasses depending on color, primarily, brown, clear and green. They believe that colors shouldn’t mix because the combination would give the product a molten effect. The sorted glass is then ground into fine bits called cullet. The cullet is then sifted and filtered with the aid of lasers, magnets, and sifters. It’s then melted and transformed into new glass.

Steel

Recycling of steel emanating from vehicles and old buildings is a practice that started many years ago. Compared to other metals, steel is considerably easy to recycle. Once steel has been collected, it is transported to recycling plants and sorted out. Once sorted, it is subjected to extremely high temperatures to melt it down and later transformed into large coils or sheets. These coils and sheets are then supplied to car manufacturers for building car bodies or construction materials.

Electronics

Electronics can be recycled in many ways, depending upon the condition of the device. Recycling electronics involves donating old, working computers to charitable organizations or simply giving them to family and friends. This ensures the computer completely stays out of landfills at the same time offering an opportunity to someone who cannot afford it. Computers that are not working can be transported to recycling plants where they are taken apart, harmful components taken away and valuable components utilized for other manufacturing processes.

Image credit: pixabay

Rinkesh

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.