The reusing of materials in their original or changed forms, commonly known as recycling, has been promoted by environmentalists as the solution to our environmental problems for several years now. Yet, the process has not been adopted on a large enough scale so as to have a sizeable impact. Recycling has been known to reduce energy consumption, save on investments and space utilized in the creation of landfills, reduces air, water and land pollution, generates jobs, and helps to conserve natural wildlife habitats. In order to be able to save the environment and prevent it from degrading further, recycling should be made mandatory for commercial organizations, educational institutions as well as communities housing multiple families.
We live in times when environmental conservation and protection has become an imperative due to rapidly degenerating natural resources and human as well as wildlife habitats. Scientists are searching for new ways of saving our planet including research on renewable energy and greener, more efficient ways of manufacturing products. However, the global community has had a means to conserve the environment for a few decades now. World governments have recently begun to take measures to reduce the negative impact that their industries have on the environment. For example, Assembly Bill 341, passed on 1st July 2012, made commercial recycling mandatory , making it obligatory for businesses that generate over 4 cubic yards of solid waste on a weekly basis as well as residential communities consisting of 5 or more units to recycle.
Recycling of materials, especially commonly discarded products such as paper, aluminum, glass as well as certain plastics saves tremendously on energy used in production. Processes recycled materials to create new products consumes much lesser energy when compared to items being produced from fresh raw materials. For example, it is more efficient in terms of energy consumption and logistics management to produce recycled paper rather than cutting down trees, transporting them to a factory to be processes into paper, and then distributing the paper to service centers or selling points. Statistics posted by the Bringham Young University of Idaho reveal that a pound of recyclable PET bottles that are used instead of fresh raw materials can save up to 84% of the energy utilized in the production of plastic. Every recycled aluminum can has the potential to conserve the energy needed to run a television for nearly 3 hours .
Further, aluminum can be recycled unlimited number of times, making it unnecessary to generate large quantities of fresh aluminum to product new cans. This converts into massive savings in expenditure on production of one of the most widely consumed commodities worldwide – cola cans. It is cheaper and more profitable to recycle trash which costs about $30, rather than dumping it in a landfill which costs $50 or incineration which costs between $65 to $75. The construction and operation of each landfill can cost taxpayers millions of dollars, with the design and engineering alone costing anywhere between $500,000 to $1 million. BYU further reveals that the amount of recyclable materials that can be found in the waste streams of America could be worth over $7 billion. In short, wide scale recycling can save the nation as well as taxpayers a substantial amount of money. In addition, the $236 billion recycling industry in the US employs over 1.1 million people across the nation. The more we recycle, the more jobs get generated.
Besides it monetary benefits, recycling is also crucial for environmental conservation. To begin with, the space utilized by landfills cannot be reused for a very long time to come. Hence, the building of new dumping ground uses land that can be uses for other purposes. It is more alarming that landfills are not designed to decompose waste but merely to store it in a safe manner. However, just because waste has been buried underground does not mean that it has vanished. Dumped waste will eventually pile up and hence, landfills are not the optimum solution for waste disposal. Incineration gives rise to great deal of air pollution and hence cannot be considered an effective method either. In comparison, recycling offers a cleaner, greener and a profitable method of disposing waste. Recycling of paper goes a long way in reducing deforestation. BYU states that if Americans recycled only 3 of their monthly news papers, it would prevent 25 million trees from being cut down.
Bringham Young University. Recycling Statistics. 2012. 1 February 2013
CalRecycle. Mandatory Commercial recycling. 12 August 2012. 1 February 2013
Wills, Amanda. “The Lowdown on Landfills.” 30 March 2009. Earth911. 1 February 2013