What is Recycling? Impact and Importance of Recycling
Have you been wondering “what is recycling?” Well, I will attempt to answer that and many more questions in this article. Recycling can be done in a lot of different forms. When we talk about small-scale recycling, it is basic and simple. Whenever you find a new purpose for something old, you are recycling it. For instance, turning cereal boxes into magazine holders is a form of small-scale recycling. However, recycling has a much wider scope. It becomes complex when we talk about large-scale recycling.
At a large-scale, consumer goods are recycled into raw materials, which are further turned into new consumer goods. Some examples of large-scale materials include office, paper, aluminium cans, steel from buildings and plastic. These materials are recycled in large quantities. In fact, many municipal programs are involved with mass collection of such materials.
Usually, a recycled product takes a different form from the original material. For instance, when we recycle paper, the new product contains ink residue. It also has shorter fibres than paper made from wood pulp. Due to this reason, recycling is not used in some industries. In this case, paper used in phosphatase or copy machines is not recycled.
What is the quality produced from recycling?
Down-Cycling – When a recycled product is weaker, cheaper and has few applications than the original product, it is called down-cycling. Some goods are recycled over and over again. Due to down-cycling, it is not possible to recycle them after a certain period of time.
Up-Cycling – As the name suggests, when a recycled product is stronger, more expensive and has more applications than the original product, it is called up-cycling. For instance, old furniture can be recycled and turned into a masterpiece, to be sold at a much higher price.
Some General Benefits of Recycling
Less Garbage – Garbage is one of the most basic reasons for recycling. In the last few years, recycling has helped reduce the amount of garbage that is sent to landfills. It is true that modern landfills are less polluting and safer. However, landfills still cause a lot of problems for people living nearby. Moreover, they take up a lot of space in populated areas. If an area already lacks space, it won’t be wise to fill it up with garbage. In USA, recycling has reduced the amount of garbage sent to landfills by 60 million tonnes per year.
Protection of Natural Resources – When a new product is manufactured without using recycled materials, it leads to depletion of natural resources. For instance, fossil fuels like natural gas and oil are needed for manufacturing plastic. Similarly, wood pulp is needed to manufacture paper. On the other hand, when recycled materials are used to manufacture a new product, it protects natural resources.
Requires Less Energy – Many recycling processes require less energy. Although there are some goods like plastic which are difficult to recycle and take up a lot of energy, there are still a wide range of products which can be recycled and turned into new products with much less energy.
Landfills Leachate Causes Pollution
Landfills not only take up a lot of space, but also cause water and air pollution. Many different chemicals and toxic substances are thrown into landfills. When garbage breaks down, these substances form a toxic solution known as leachate. This by-product can create a lot of pollution. Leachate can also contaminate groundwater supplies and therefore, it is very dangerous. Although there are drainage pipes to secure the environment, they tend to leak over time. This can be a big problem for the neighbourhood.
Impact of Recycling on Economy
In the last few years, recycling has been tremendously popular. As a result, it has a lot of economic impact. For all those companies which collect used products, recycle them and sell new consumer goods, recycling has become a source of income. In the last few years, it has turned into a major industry. Moreover, heavily populated areas with landfills have to pay for landfill usage. Recycling has allowed municipal authorities to significantly cut budgets. Recycling also affects the economy in another major way. According to statistics, recycling can generate around six times as many jobs and three times as much revenue as landfill disposal.