Did you know that your choice to recycle is one that could change the world? By reducing your carbon footprint, you are playing a vital role in saving the environment.
Recycling takes material that would otherwise be considered waste and re-manufactures these items to create new products.
The more people choose to recycle, the greater the impact recycling will have. As a result, it is important that every individual contributes to recycling efforts. For this reason, recycling should be mandatory. See our Guide to Recycling and Waste Management for tips and tricks!
Here are some benefits to be obtained from recycling:
Recycling significantly reduces the need for landfills. The world has changed very much in the past century and the amount of waste we produce as humans is rapidly increasing. The human population has grown, and consumers are now making more purchases than before. Changes in lifestyle practices, such as eating fast food and opting for disposable items, means more waste is now being created. This is compounded by the fact that much of the new packaging is not biodegradable.
The main purpose of a landfill is to store waste not break it down; however, there will still be some decomposition of organic waste. Since the garbage in a landfill is buried in an oxygen-free environment the decomposition of organic material is a slow process.
When organic waste in landfills decomposes methane is produced. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change by trapping excess heat in the air. It is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of its global warming potential and when it is burnt, carbon dioxide is produced.
Emissions from Canadian landfills account for approximately 20 per cent of national methane emissions. While landfill gas recovery is an option, diverting organic material from landfills will limit the production of methane.
Another benefit is energy conservation. The extracting and processing of raw materials such as wood, oil or ore to make products like paper, plastic and metal is a process that requires a lot of energy. While the amount of energy saved by recycling differs depending on what is being recycled, almost all recycling processes save significant amounts of energy when compared with processes that use raw materials. This is so because recycled products usually require much less processing to turn them into usable items compared to products made from scratch.
Recycling aluminium cans, for example, saves more than 95 per cent of the energy it would have taken to make the same amount of aluminum from the raw material bauxite. It has also been found that about 76 per cent of energy is saved by recycling plastic bottles, approximately 30 per cent of energy is saved from recycled glass, and an estimated 40 per cent of energy is saved when paper is recycled, while saving millions of trees.
Energy is expensive and many of our energy sources are being depleted. Saving energy in manufacturing processes can help to significantly lower production costs.
Additionally, recycling is a diverse industry and when compared to waste disposal it is much more labour intensive. This means building the recycling industry is also a way to create more jobs. It is said that disposing of 10,000 tons of waste in a landfill creates six jobs, as opposed to recycling the same amount of waste, which creates 36 jobs.
Overall, there are many benefits to be derived from recycling, more than could be included in any one article. Each person has a responsibility to contribute to the recycling efforts.
So, do your part and recycle today!
Learn more about how the Vancouver branch of global engineering firm GHD successfully sorts their waste and recycling streams with Growing City, and how they encourage best practices at the office.
Learn more about Zero Waste Canada with founder Jamie Kaminski.