In today’s day and age, recycling is unquestionably vital, yet as many people are not practicing it as we would want.
People do not feel compelled to go out of their place to start recycling unless it is incredibly simple or virtually straightforward for them to do so.
Ask your friend to recycle that pickle jar to store kitchen spices, and they will not hesitate.
Now ask them to shop from the thrift store for Christmas- the look on their face will give it all away!
Waste production rates are increasing all around the world. The globe was predicted to create 2.24 billion tonnes of solid trash in 2020, equating to a daily footprint of 0.79 kilos per person.
Annual trash output is anticipated to increase by 73% from 2020 to 3.88 billion tonnes in 2050 due to high population expansion and urbanization.
Climate change is undoubtedly the most pressing challenge of the 21st century, and recycling is frequently cited as a vital remedy.
But how successful is recycling? As it turns out, the solution is not as straightforward as you would assume.
The process of recycling does offer certain advantages. It decreases the demand for new resources, saving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
Furthermore, it has the potential to minimize the quantity of the garbage that goes to landfills.
However, recycling is not a cure-all. It has limits and can sometimes do more harm than good. Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of recycling:
Table of Contents
Pros of recycling
Consumers, communities, the economy, the ecosystem, and society prosper from recycling. Here are a few pros of recycling that prove it to be helpful:
1. Conserve Natural Resources
Many natural resources are employed in extracting and refining raw ingredients, including wood, fossil fuel, coal, minerals, oil, and other commodities.
If we recycle previously used waste materials, we may reduce the cost and processing of raw materials.
Recycling helps us save many essential and significant raw resources while protecting our natural ecosystem from exhaustion.
Conserving natural resources such as fossil fuel, petroleum, water, oil, water, and so on will aid in preserving our natural resources.
2. Lower Level Of Soil Pollution
When garbage winds up in landfills, it not only emanates a strong odor but also causes substantial soil degradation.
Plastic garbage disposed of in landfills will degrade eventually, and dangerous chemicals will be flushed into our soil.
Over time, those pollutants will be carried through the soil and into our food.
Imagine the quantities of toxins that would end up on our plates! As a result, recycling plastic can be an excellent strategy to preserve our fertile soil from significant contamination.
3. Saves Groundwater Supplies
One gallon of the oil spill may pollute a million gallons of water. A single pint of oil spilled into a lake or marsh may cover an acre of surface water and severely harm aquatic ecology.
We can keep our communities’ water supplies healthy by recycling spent motor oil, home chemicals, and other liquid toxins.
At the same time, once recycled, those potential toxins may be used again to suit the demands of our contemporary lifestyle.
4. Global Warming Mitigation
Manufacturing plastic cans and other goods may entail burning large amounts of garbage, resulting in startling greenhouse gas emissions.
Given the consequences of global warming, doing everything necessary to reduce them would be highly beneficial.
This involves recycling to limit trash creation and maintain the burning process to a bare minimum.
Converting garbage into useful and environmentally beneficial items would also assist in offsetting adverse environmental effects.
5. Promotes Environmental Awareness
The recycling sector engages and empowers individuals in the fight to repair environmental damage without requiring them to expend a great deal of money or make important life-changing decisions.
Recycling protocol is a win-win situation for everyone, and it communicates the message that environmentally sound practices may improve rather than complicate our lives.
When individuals become thrilled about the environmental benefits of recycling, as so many do, they will undoubtedly look for new ways to join the ranks of those who oppose ecologically detrimental habits.
A simple action as minor as shopping from a thrift store could make a huge difference!
6. Reduces Consumption Of Energy
Inventing new items from recycled plastics uses 66% less energy than making new goods from raw plastic resources.
We all know that a significant amount of energy is consumed during the fabrication of raw materials for any commodity that consumes a substantial amount of resources.
Recycling not only assists in reducing energy consumption by reusing discarded materials but also lowers the cost and time required to produce various products.
A brand can claim it wants to create clothing and develop the fabric, including collecting cotton or linen plants or making synthetic fiber.
If a brand employs recycled products, on the other side, it may simply skip the first phase of the production process.
As a consequence, recycled material helps to conserve energy. Recycling, to some extent, also lessens the demand for expansion.
Cons of recycling
Now let’s have a look at some disadvantages of recycling.
Some recycling opponents argue that the expenses outnumber the advantages and surpass community resources.
Cities and municipalities claim that they cannot afford to maintain recycling plants and programs.
In the United States, landfill space is inexpensive, meaning that recycling costs outweigh the cost of landfill or water disposal costs in many regions.
Of course, certain recyclable materials are more expensive to recycle than others. This is why some municipal governments refuse to recycle glass or plastic.
The entire recycling process cost might vary not only depending on the administration of the recycling program and the demand for recovered products.
2. Hazardous For Workers
Recycling sites, in many respects, are similar to landfills in terms of risks, with employees possibly coming into touch with harmful chemicals that might harm their health.
Most trash carries the risk of illness and the absorption of dangerous chemicals, which can contaminate water systems.
The problem is exacerbated by inadequate administration of many sites, notably in poorer nations with low standards.
This entails establishing new sites for possibly hazardous garbage. These garbage dumps are breeding grounds for germs, sickness, and many other dangerous situations.
Furthermore, recycling facilities are industrial units, implying they are not contamination-free.
3. High Toxicity
Pollutants such as toxic chemical compounds will affect the environment when waste items degrade.
Lead-based or spray paint toxins and contaminants from the starting source might get transported through recycling and into the recycled commodity.
Worse, we may not know the goods we have been using are tainted for years.
It’s been 12 years that recycled steel used in structures in Taiwan has been causing gamma radiation sickness.
4. Quality Issues
Assume you are looking for a new pair of party wear. You could go to the retail outlet and get a brand new attire with a brand new look, or you could look for a great used pair.
There is no guarantee that high-quality goods will be created through trash recycling if the sourcing of raw materials is of poor quality.
Due to poor quality, some products designated for recycling are eventually burned or disposed of in landfills.
5. Require Personal Efforts
One issue with plastic recycling is that people frequently do not segregate their plastic debris, making the recycling process significantly less efficient.
Recycling waste at home requires more effort than many families believe. Food-contaminated products are not accepted in most recycling programs.
That implies that even if consumers believe they are categorizing things correctly, canned food containers, yogurt cups, pizza boxes, and soda bottles may not meet program requirements.
That is why most curbside recycling centers and systems require considerable information and marketing strategies to be successful.
6. Flawed Incentive
Many individuals believe that by purchasing recyclable plastics, they are helping the environment.
While purchasing recyclable plastic over conventional plastic is preferable, using those plastics is still harmful to our environment.
You should resist using plastics as much as possible, even if they are recyclable, because they are many materials available that are far less harmful to our planet.
As a result, many individuals may have a false idea about the real impact of recyclable plastic bottles on our environment, leading them to buy more plastic instead of less.
What to do with waste materials that we can not recycle?
Not every waste product can be segregated into recycling bins and taken away by recycling trucks in recycling factories.
Organic materials or reusable materials can not be or do not require the concept of recycling. Other waste mitigation ways are:
- Reusable products: Reuse them for the same or different purposes,
- Animal products: Raw materials for fertilizer or leather products,
- Fresh products but unused or not needed: Give to others, consume or donate,
- Leftover foods: Organic fertilizer.
Soda cans, glass bottles, broken glass, water bottles, spray cans, beer bottles, and fruit cans are all recyclable collections of waste materials but can be reused in innovative ways.
If recycling is costly and bad for workers, why end up with usable products in recycling companies?
Summary (pros and cons of recycling)
|Conserve Natural Resources
|Lower Level Of Soil Pollution
|Saves Groundwater Supplies
|Global Warming Mitigation
|Promotes Environmental Awareness
|Reduces Consumption Of Energy
|Hazardous For Workers
|Require Personal Efforts
Perhaps you’ll be much more prepared to contribute the next time you find yourself in a fiery recycling argument!
The advantages of recycling exceed the negatives, but it is not a panacea for resolving the climate challenge.
Recycling is not the only answer to our planet’s environmental challenges.
To significantly tackle climate change, we must cut our overall resource consumption and transition to a zero-waste society by discovering methods to reuse and recycle the materials we already have.
Start teaching your children about the pros and cons of recycling today. If physical books are hard to read for you or youtube is not so reliable, try out kindles after analyzing their pros and cons.
(Last Updated on October 11, 2022)