Tons of waste are produced every year and are sent to someplace where they will either be buried or burned. But according to reports, 75% of produced waste can actually be recycled. Recycling, which is the process of creating new products from used materials, can be traced back from the time of Plato, when resources were scarce.
The practice was carried on to war periods until it became a significant part in the modern approach to waste management. But unlike before, recycling efforts today are not pushed by the scarcity of resources, rather, they are a decent response to environmental issues. Waste management and recycling, specifically, are attempts to preserve the environment and protect all living things. And as the environment is continuously being threatened by massive waste production, recycling is hoped to be a global endeavor.
Landfills and incinerators are the most common destinations of collected waste. Although proven helpful in waste disposal, these two have been widely criticized for their environmental effects. Burying waste in landfills particularly allows for the release of methane gas, a type of greenhouse gas that is even more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Aside from that, landfills can leach other hazardous materials and may cause water pollution. And because waste materials are known to take many years to decompose, with some requiring hundreds to thousands of years, more landfill space are needed, which are becoming expensive and scarce. Incinerators, meanwhile, similarly emit greenhouse gas and other toxic chemicals that endanger human health and trigger global climate changes. Recycling responds to these problems by decreasing the volume of waste sent to landfills and incinerators. Rather than disposed of, waste materials are turned into something more useful.
By making new products out of used products, recycling contributes to the conservation of energy. Generally, it takes less energy to process an already processed material. For instance, the production of paper using recycled materials uses 40% less of the time needed to make the same product from virgin materials. This energy conservation also provides small openings for water and air pollution. In the same way, recycling significantly reduces the consumption of raw materials, which naturally contributes to the conservation of resources. Recycling a ton of newspaper, for instance, saves 12 trees.
But aside from the environmental benefits, the economical benefits of recycling are also one reason it has been practiced in many countries. On a national scale, recycling can create a lot of jobs that offer decent wages. And with the recycling industry becoming even more successful, more businesses are expected to grow and provide more job opportunities. Individuals, on the other hand, can make small business through recycling projects. They can create new products, such as bags and cards, from scraps and sell them for a small price. Selling scrap materials to certain organizations and individuals, who in turn will make recycled items for reselling, is as well a good way to earn money.
Buying recyclable and recycled products is also encouraged to support the recycling industry and as a whole to protect the environment. The symbol of three moving arrows on a product signifies it is recyclable. Such arrows represent the process of recycling: from becoming a waste to reprocessing to reselling. And this symbol coined the term “close the loop,” an accurate representation of waste management and recycling.