Does it make sense to recycle?
The short and long answers are: Yes
Some critics wonder whether mandatory programs are worthwhile:
- As they require more trucks to ferry recyclables to their destination thus consuming energy and belching carbon dioxide into the atmosphere;
- Many recycling programs still cost more to run than they bring in when they sell the recyclable materials back to manufacturers.
However, when the true cost of a product over its entire life cycle is considered - from harvesting the raw materials to creating, consuming, and disposing of it - the scale tips dramatically in recycling's favour.
A product's true cost includes greenhouse gases emitted in its creation as well as use, and pollutants that cause acid rain, smog, and fouled waterways.
Recycling - substituting scrap for virgin materials - works because:
- it conserves natural resources
- reduces the amount of waste that must be burned or buried
- and reduces pollution and the demand for energy
What can be recycled?
You can typically recycle (please check your local council / municipality guidelines):
Paper and cardboard; glass bottles and jars; aluminium and steel cans; empty aerosols and clean aluminium foil; plastic yoghurt, margarine and ice cream containers; milk and juice cartons; plastic milk, juice and soft drink bottles; plastic cups, plastic take-away containers, plastic detergent and shampoo bottles.
Waste & Recycling Facts
- Paper typically makes up for 70% of office waste with 10,000 A4 sheets used for every worker each year.
- Globally we produce and use around 7 trillion (7,000,000,000,000) plastic bags a year - with hundreds of billions ending up as litter
- The Styrofoam cups used every year would circle the planet at least five times; they are not biodegradable and are rarely recycled
- Recycling an aluminium can uses only 5% of the energy required to make a new one. Recycling glass uses 26% of the energy. Every tonne of paper recycled saves almost 13 trees, 4,100 kilowatts of electricity and more than 30,000 litres (7,900 gallons) of water
- Daily worldwide sales figures of Biros exceed 14m: A plastic pen in landfill will still be there in 50,000 years.