Recycling is an ever-increasing practice which can be easily employed by both individuals and companies. Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of current waste clearance and recycling practices:
Pros of recycling:
- Reduction of waste and landfill occupation – Because a lot of the things we throw away is made from non-biodegradable substances such as plastic, glass, and styrofoam (among many other materials), these items wind up taking up space in landfills for hundreds of years, or even more. If we recycle or reuse items that we get rid of during rubbish clearance, we prevent more things from making it into these landfills. Landfills themselves are a huge problem in that they are limited in their capacity, so anything we can do to prevent them overflowing into nearby lands and rivers is crucial.
- Conservation of natural resources – Recycling helps conserve resources such as water, timber and minerals. By reusing or reducing use of wood, this decreases the amount of trees which need to be cut down to support industries such as the construction and paper industries. And more trees left standing means more oxygen generated for us to breathe, which is always a good thing.
- Reduction of pollution – Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions, especially when companies do it at the factory industry level. The fossil fuels which are currently used emit toxic gasses; recycling therefore reduces air pollution by helping to cut down on the level of greenhouse gas emissions.
- Conservation of energy – It takes more energy to process raw materials which derive from trees or other similar resources than to recycle those same materials. It takes more energy to produce new paper from trees than to recycle paper. The transport of these resources also requires a large amount of energy. Waste removal and recycling effectively helps to cut down on the energy required to product and transport raw materials.
- Aids in wildlife conservation – If we produce and use less plastic, we are able to prevent the pollution which results from landfill overflow and careless discarding. Plastics kill many fish and mammals each year by trapping them or being ingested by them; decreasing the amount of plastic going onto land and in bodies of water will directly prevent such unnecessary deaths from occurring.
- Conservation of money – You can get reimbursed for bringing bottles and cans back, as well as electronics and other recyclable items. When you switch to reusable water bottles and water filtration systems over buying bottled water, you will not only greatly reduce the amount of plastic you are using, but you will save a ton of money over time.
Cons of Recycling:
- Increased number of factories required – An increase in recycling will likely result in more factories needing to be created and operated to accommodate the various waste collection needs and processes. This could potentially produce more pollution and consume more energy when it comes to sorting, storing, transporting and processing materials. If the U.S. adapts a more European way of at-home recycling, this would require more bins to be put out, and would probably require more trucks picking those bins up.
- Increased costs – Short-term, recycling could cost industries more to do than the current waste disposal options in use. It costs about $150 per ton to recycle material, while it only costs about $50-60 per ton to place it into landfills.
- Harsh chemicals required – Bleach is a commonly used chemical in recycling, and is definitely not eco-friendly. Others toxic chemicals are also required to recycle many products. This increases risks of pollution, wildlife damage and injury to humans.
So, as with anything, recycling does not have a black-and-white answer as to whether it is the solution to all the world’s problems. It certainly has more advantages than disadvantages, and the cons can be easily overcome by evolution of practices and innovative ideas and technologies. If done correctly, recycling definitely does more good than harm.