Why Recycling Matters

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Many cities around the country actively encourage recycling by providing special bins for our recyclables. What is recycling, exactly? Recycling is the term for collecting used objects, such as plastics, glass, newspaper, cardboard, metals, and rubber and delivering them to a facility that sorts the materials in order to re-manufacture objects from them. Why do we recycle? There are numerous benefits to recycling, including reducing pollution, saving energy, and reducing waste.

The Recycling Process

 

  • Sorting – The sorting stage consists of gathering and separating each material. They are sorted by category: paper, metal, glass, etc. and by sub category: metal would include aluminum, steel, iron, etc. Once the materials are properly sorted, they proceed to the next stage.

 

  • Re-manufacture – Properly sorted materials are re-manufactured using up to 100% of the original waste material, though much is mixed with new material. Once the materials are re-manufactured as usable objects, they proceed to the final stage.

 

  • Redistribution – Recycled products, whether previously 100% waste material, or mixed with unused material, are sent to stores where they are purchased, used, and recycled again. Thus, the process of recycling is an endless loop.

 

Importance of Recycling

Recycling discarded materials reduces the need to manufacture objects from new materials, which depletes our natural resources and raw materials. Instead of cutting down more trees to make new paper, we can recycle old paper, thereby saving trees. Recycling also requires less energy to re-manufacture objects. Processing old paper to make new paper doesn’t take as much energy as making new paper by cutting down a tree, transporting it, and processing it then. By recycling non-biodegradable waste, we reduce the amount of harmful gas emissions that pollute our atmosphere. Finally, recycling reduces the waste added to landfills. Landfills are filled with non-biodegradable waste that will take centuries to decompose. If these landfills continue to grow, eventually there will be no more room to store our garbage.

Biodegradable waste like vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, and grass clippings can be used as fertilizer for your lawn or garden. Some companies even offer to pay for recyclable materials, such as ink cartridges. There is even an organization called TerraCycle that you can send your waste to. Not only can you send  just recyclables, but even just general trash. They will also make donations to charity based on how much you send in.

As our world populations grow, it is becoming more and more important to recycle so that we don’t deplete the earth of its natural resources or pollute its air, water, and land with waste. Future generations will be happier to live in a hospitable, environmentally conscious world. So remember the three Rs when you go to throw something out: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

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