Facts on Recycling

December 9th, 2012

By guest writer, Mike J.

It is without a doubt that recycling will be a major contribution to the battle of reducing carbon emissions and therefore help prevent the full devastating effects of global warming. If we are optimistic – and I believe we should be – we might even be able to reverse the process of global warming. The facts on recycling are simple, if you were to reduce it to its simplest argument – it would be that mankind cannot use the Earth’s resources indefinitely – that at some point we will simply run out of the materials that we obtain from the planet.

Some people still hold the view that recycling is unnecessary or ineffective, it’s a dangerous opinion because it counteracts all the hard work that recycling enthusiasts do. Certain groups have pointed out – that recycling does not take a uniform approach from country to country and indeed from zip code to zip code. That one area’s recycling facilities may vary dramatically from another’s, say only ten miles away. While this is true to a certain extent, we must consider that as recycling’s importance is recognised, facilities are improving, and it is becoming ever more easy to do.

The other main concern is that some people believe that recycling simply does not save energy or resources and has become some crazy conspiracy. It is totally illogical when you consider the actual facts on recycling. Recent figures from the Bureau of International Recycling show that recycling saves the following amount of energy consumption for some easily recyclable materials:

Steel 74%, Aluminium 95%, Copper 85%, Lead 65%, Paper 64%, Plastics 80%.

So if someone wants to know the facts on recycling just quote those above figures, I guarantee anyone can see the sense in recycling then. Besides there would be no reason to make a conspiracy to encourage people to recycle for the sake of it. What would any government or industry gain from such a deception. It is common sense to re-use materials that have already been mined, produced or chopped down and are already in circulation, than obtain more from the planet.

And remember recycling is nothing new. Since mankind began using tools we always tried to fix or reinvent uses for old or broken utensils / weapons / clothing etc. Why should we stop now? (Ironically for early man, regaining the raw materials was a lot harder, for modern man a lot easier). Perhaps one of the reasons some people don’t wish to recycle is they have become too comfortable with the throwaway society that has been growing since the 60s. Recycling does take effort (but less and less) and maybe we all need to re-learn the value of simple things that we throw away.

Re-using these materials also saves on the amount of land fill required to bury them, and, in so doing losing them forever. Landfill itself is harmful to the environment as it requires green space and can take years to recover. That is land that for several years will not have trees, plants or wildlife living on them. Given that the planet is quickly running out of usable land for all forms of life – can we really afford to give so much over to the disposal of waste that actually still has a use in production and industry?

Land usage is a hot topic in environmental concerns, and will become even more important should the worst of global warming happen and sea levels rise dramatically. As Chris Goodall comments in his book Ten Technologies To Save The Planet: “One of the great issues the world faces is how it will decide to allocate land between the various competing uses.” [Page 15] Specifically his book talks about green fuel producing technologies, but throughout highlights how precious land will be. Both in its ability to feed us, provide fuel and give us an actual place to live. How can we conceivably keep using land as a rubbish tip when he states that already there is a “conflict between food and fuel for the world’s productive land,” [Page 16] because of which the “US Department of Agriculture projections envisage growth rates in agricultural production dipping below the rate of increase in world population.” [Page 16].

The main facts on recycling are that they allow us to use resources again in a world that is becoming short on many of the essential requirements we need. We will run out of oil and coal resources, and as can be proven recycling uses less energy, which means apart from reducing pollution allows us to use this albeit non-green energy for more important uses (at least until greener energy has been fully developed and implemented). Landfill takes up space and by throwing away perfectly usable material requires us to dig up land to obtain more; whilst conversely and illogically digging up more land to bury usable and similar material.

The facts on recycling are that we need to do it, it makes sense to do it. Our fight with global warming is going to be about resources – which means that we cannot afford to throw anything away.

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 9th, 2012 at 4:21 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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