Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling

Many of us feel overwhelmed by the term ‘recycling’. Recycling is a form of waste management that involves converting waste and other used materials into reusable products. 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.

Some of the wastes that can be recycled include:

Plastic: Which include water bottles, plastic bags, plastic wrappers and rubber bags.

Glass: Glass products that can be recycled include wine and beer bottles and broken glasses

Paper: Such as magazines, newspapers, books, envelopes and cardboard boxes

Metals: Like empty tomato, soda and fruit cans.

Other waste products that can be recycled include textiles, tires, and electronics.

The Recycling process

Collection of waste materials and processing

Waste materials are collected through drop-off centers, curbside collection, deposit or refund programs. The waste materials are then transported to a materials recovery facility or recycling centers where they are sorted out, cleaned and processed into ideal materials for manufacturing. The recyclable waste materials can be bought and sold the same way raw material would be. The prices fluctuate depending on demand and supply throughout the country.


Manufacturing is where the processed waste materials are converted into useful products. Many products in the modern day are manufactured using recycled waste materials. Common products manufactured using waste materials include paper towels, newspapers, steel cans, soft drink containers made of plastic glass and aluminum and plastic laundry detergents.

Dissemination of manufactured products to the market

The finished recycled product is then made available on the market. You can be part of waste reduction campaigns by purchasing products made from recycled materials. It’s pretty easy to pinpoint products of recyclable material because the words are plastered on the labels.

Recycling has a plethora of advantages to humans and environments. Surprisingly, the whole process of recycling comes along with some shocking impacts unknown to a lot of people. Let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages to recycling.

Advantages of Recycling

  1. Recycling minimizes pollution

All forms of pollution in the modern world emanate from industrial waste. Recycling of these industrial wastes such as plastics, cans, and chemicals go a long way towards considerably cutting back on levels of pollution because these waste products are reused rather than just being thrown away recklessly.

  1. Protects the environment

The great benefit of recycling waste material is that it plays a big part in protecting Mother Nature in the most balanced way. While many trees are felled every day, recycled paper manufactured from specific trees is continually utilized to reduce deforestation. This classical example demonstrates that other natural resources can be recycled and made useful this way to conserve the environment.

  1. Recycling minimizes global warming

It is perfectly true that recycling minimizes global warming and its grave impacts. During waste disposal, huge amounts of waste are combusted that lead to emission of vast greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur, and nitrogen, which contribute to climate change and global warming.

Recycling process involves minimal combustion and waste is transformed into reusable materials with zero or minimal harmful impact on the environment. The whole process of processing and manufacturing products from waste materials emits few greenhouse gases because the very waste recycling industries burn little fossil fuels.

  1. Conserves natural resources

If the process of recycling used and old materials was not there, it means new products will be manufactured by extraction of fresh raw materials underneath the earth through the process of mining and extraction. Recycling is a surefire way of conserving existing raw materials and protecting them for future use. Taking steps to conserve natural resources like minerals, water and wood ensures sustainable and optimal use.

  1. Recycling cuts down amount of waste in landfill sites

Recycling old and used materials into reusable products enormously reduces the possibility of choking of landfill sites. This is beneficial because it helps minimize land and water pollution since landfills contribute mightily to environmental degradation.

  1. Recycling ensures sustainable use of resources

Recycling guarantees that existing resources will be used sensibly and sustainably. The recycling process alleviates the possibility of discriminate use of raw materials when they are obtainable in huge supply. Governments these days have stepped in to encourage recycling from lower levels, for instance, schools, small-sized organizations and also at global levels. This means that manufacturing industries can leave existing natural resources for exploitation by our children in the future without affecting current production.

  1. Recycling contributes to creation of jobs

To add to the benefits it brings to the environment; recycling opens up job opportunities. Recycling means many recycling plants will be set up, thus, leading to a long chain of collection and delivery. All these activities are performed by humans, so this will trigger an explosion of opportunities.

  1. Reduces energy consumption

A lot of energy is used to process raw materials in the course of manufacture. Recycling plays a big role in reducing energy consumption, which is vital for large-scale production, for instance, mining and refining. Recycling also renders the whole process of production less expensive, which is a great victory for manufacturers.

Disadvantages of Recycling

  1. High upfront capital costs

Recycling is not always cost-effective. Building up a new waste recycling unit takes up a lot of capital. The accompanying costs include buying different kinds of utility vehicles, upgrading the recycling unit, waste, and chemical disposal and schooling the locals by initiating useful programs and seminars.

  1. Recycling sites are always unhygienic, unsafe and unsightly

Go to any waste recycling site, and you will almost always stumble upon unhygienic, unhealthy and unsightly conditions. Locations where every manner of waste is piled provides a nice ground for the formation of debris and spread of infectious diseases. The harmful chemicals from these wastes can also be dangerous.

On top of causing massive pollution, the whole recycling process poses health risks for dedicated individuals responsible for recycling these waste products. Also, if such waste products come into contact with water, results in the formation of leachate that ends up polluting water bodies, not to mention drinking water.

  1. Products from recycled waste may not be durable.

The quality of products manufactured from recycled waste may not be on par regarding quality. These kinds of products are almost always made of trashed waste material collected from mountains of other waste materials that have been overly utilized and fragile. This makes products of recycled waste less durable and low priced.

  1. Recycling might not be inexpensive

Sometimes, recycling waste may not be less costly as most people think. At times, a need arises to establish another waste recycling unit for processing. This will only drive up the costs related setting up the new unit or upgrading the processing facility, collection of waste materials, acquiring different utility vehicles, educating residents by organizing seminars and other programs etc.

  1. Recycling is not widespread on large scale

Although recycling plays a bigger role in reducing the rate of pollution, the process has not been widely embraced and developed. Unfortunately recycling still is just a small part of long-term success. Recycling is mostly common in schools and homes and has not hit a bigger milestone, for example, it has not been wholly used at local industries or holistically at a global stage. Conservation of trees at school is incomparable to the massive destruction of trees and oil spills happening at industrial levels.

After juggling the advantages and disadvantages of recycling, an individual can wisely take significant steps involved in recycling process. Knowing the effects of recycling is vital to a larger degree that if carried out effectively, can bring immeasurable benefits to the environment and humans

Reference: Reduce Reuse Recycle
Image credit: imeleven , U.S. Army