Why is it important to recycle
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Why is it Important to Recycle? Reasons to Recycle Plastic, Metal & More

Take a closer look at your trash can. Is everything in there really waste? You could probably still use much of what goes in your trash for purposes other than what you acquired them for. We can renew the life of some materials by recycling them. Recycling means converting waste into reusable material. Why is it important to recycle?

The problem with waste

We want the future generation to enjoy life in a healthy environment, but this can only be possible if we consciously try to protect the planet. Waste production is unavoidable as we go about our daily lives. Human activities collectively result in an enormous amount of waste spread across landfill sites worldwide. Landfills and incinerators significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

The spike in the atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and methane, causes adverse global climate change. There are many ways to manage waste, but recycling is the most energy-efficient method.

There are even more reasons to consider recycling more seriously. The earth's natural resources are vast but not inexhaustible. If we continue to operate on a single-use consumption system, raw materials will become increasingly scarce and eventually run out.

We have commonly used products made from recycled materials. These include soda cans, newspapers, plastic bottles, glass milk bottles, and paper towels. Ideally, we use these products just once. But with recycling, the materials we make can go back to the recycling and manufacturing industries and be used to make something else.

There are many benefits to recycling. Materials meant for recycling can be bought and sold just like raw materials. If we recycle more, we will preserve energy and save money.

Why is it important to recycle?

why recycle
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

When you shop for something new, you determine if the purchase was worth the amount spent if it meets your needs. But if you consider the cost of that new item to the environment, you might find that the item costs way more than the value it gives. Take a pair of jeans, for instance. It is probably the cheapest clothing item in your wardrobe.

But what if you added the environmental cost? About 3,781 liters of water are needed to make one pair of jeans. The production of one pair of jeans emits around 34kg of co2. Then there is the chemical pollution resulting from the dyeing and treatment processes. Think of the multiple pairs of jeans owned by you and virtually everyone on the planet. You can now understand how your pair of jeans cost more than money.

Recycling is great, but not everything we need is made from recyclable materials. Therefore, you can begin reducing your contribution to landfills by reducing how much you buy. Take your time to make deliberate purchase decisions based on quality and multi-functionality.

Buy something made with durable material, and we can repurpose it for other purposes. That way, the few items you do own will serve you satisfactorily. Inculcating a slow-buy policy will make you financially prudent and ensure that there is less that needs recycling.

Reuse of raw materials

Reusing items (part of the 4Rs, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) is another to save the earth the energy required to produce a brand new one. If you really must get something, why not buy a pre-loved one?

As circularity and sustainability are becoming popular notions, more and more people have come to appreciate the benefits of buying second-hand. You may not have the facilities to recycle efficiently in your home, but reduction and reuse are other ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Rather than picking up a new pair of jeans, browse the virtual racks of online thrift stores instead for a second-hand pair.

Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that consumers have considered waste and turning them into new products. Recycling saves the energy required to make new products. It ensures that the energy spent on sourcing existing materials is not wasted.

Using recycled products reduces the need to source new raw materials. It is an efficient method of conserving natural resources. Recycling glass reduces the need for sand, while recycled metal allows us to avoid processing raw materials such as iron and aluminum,

Recycling has a positive impact on the environment. It helps cut back on the amount of waste that gets sent to incinerators and landfills. Recycling saves energy. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions from processing raw materials while reducing the need to consume natural resources.

We can also see the benefits of recycling in the economy2. The recycling industry in the United States is a source of employment for many people. It employs about 757,000 people every year.

Try as much as possible to reduce consumption, and when you can't, consider recycling and reusing.

Why is it important to recycle plastic?

Everywhere you look, you can easily find plastic. It is versatile and durable; we have adapted it to many uses over the years.

Plastic, however, is not biodegradable. Plastics can take over 100 years to disintegrate in landfills. After serving its usefulness, it does not decompose like organic materials. However, there are some biodegradable plastics. The source of most plastic in circulation is petrochemicals, which are not biodegradable. Manufacturing plastic products consumes a lot of energy. Plastic waste is one of the significant contributors to water pollution.

Why is it important to recycle metals?

Metal solid waste is also highly recyclable. Food, drinks, and other products come packaged in aluminum cans. A report by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries says that recycling metals can cut emissions of harmful greenhouse gases by 300 million to 400 million tons1.

The benefits of recycling metal and plastic are many. Recycling these waste materials consumes less energy than manufacturing with raw materials. Further, the recycling process produces lower carbon emissions.

Why is recycling paper so important?

People tend to overlook the importance of paper in environmental recycling. But paper is quite commonly used and consumes energy during production like all other products. Paper is one of the fastest biodegrading materials, but landfills' anaerobic system can cause it not to decompose.

Because the source of paper is trees, paper waste severely impacts the environment. It is important to recycle paper. This is because trees, which are the primary raw materials for paper products, are precious to the ecosystem. They absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen.

Paper recycling helps to save trees and preserve forests and wildlife. For every ton of paper we recycle, we save 17 trees, 380 gallons of water, and 4000 kilowatts of energy. Recycling paper saves energy and resources. Less energy and resources go into the process of recycling paper.

We consider space in landfills prime real estate. It is essential to manage the space, so they don't fill up too quickly. When we recycle paper, we reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. This leaves more space for the kind of material that we can not recycle.

Food Waste

Food waste is a massive global issue too. Sometimes people forget to consider food waste in the recycling mix; not least, it predominately biodegrades. However, many reasons exist why we should recycle food waste. Predominately when recycling food waste, we can use it productively for compost and reduce potentially methane-releasing waste.


Recycling is vital in the fight against climate change. It reduces pollution and saves energy. Finding new uses for used goods helps to conserve natural resources. Recycling has proved to be an effective energy-saving and waste-management system. The recycling industry contributes to the economy.

You can contribute to recycling by getting a recycling bin to sort recyclable materials differently from non-recyclable ones. When you use aluminum cans or glass bottles produced from recycling, you are caring for the planet in your way.

Recycling efforts are continuously improving worldwide, but the world's recycling rate still needs to go higher.

1Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries. The Economic Impact of the Scrap Recycling Industry in the United States. Metal.

Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). Recycling Economic Information Report.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Main photo by Krizjohn Rosales from Pexels
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