Why Do We Recycle?
A report by the Local Government Association warned that landfill sites in the UK could be full by 2018. If ever there was a time to take recycling seriously, it’s now.
What happens to our recycling?
The process of recycling is fairly straightforward. Bags of rubbish are collected from the kerbside and taken to a Materials Recycling Facility. They are emptied, loaded onto a conveyor belt and non-recyclable items are picked off.
The recycled goods are loaded onto a vibrating plate that separates paper and cardboard. These are bailed up and sent to a paper recycling area. Steel and tin cans are removed from the conveyor belt using magnets, and again, are sent to a dedicated recycling area.
Plastics are identified by optical scanners, and an eddy current picks out aluminium cans. The last recyclable items are glass bottles and jars. These are dropped off the end of the conveyor belt into large containers.
Recycling prevents landfill waste, but it’s not just the environment that benefits. Recycling can improve the economy and make a positive impact on energy consumption too.
The simplest way to explain why you need to recycle is to break it down into three areas: Energy, Economy and Environment.
It takes much less energy to create new products from recycled materials than it does with brand new, ‘virgin’ materials.
For example, glass can be sorted into colours and melted down to make new glass bottles. This saves thirty per cent of the energy cost of making glass from natural sources. Recycling one bottle saves the equivalent amount of energy as having a laptop running for twenty-five minutes.
Creating a new aluminium can from recycled aluminium saves ninety five per cent of the energy it takes to create a can from raw materials. If you recycle one aluminium can, it conserves the same amount of energy as having your television turned on for three hours!
Not only is it more energy efficient to create new products from recycled goods, it’s also more economical. Purchasing products that have been made using recycled products, such as toilet paper and sketching paper are better for your budget too.
Recycling creates jobs. It takes thirty-six job roles to process ten thousand tonnes of waste, compared to just six job roles when rubbish is taken to a landfill site.
Recycling creates new businesses for those who want to transport or sell recycled materials. Most of the UK’s recycled waste goes to China, who take in eighty per cent of our plastic exports and fifty five per cent of our paper exports.
In the future, your council tax bill may even be reduced because of recycling. It costs councils much more money to send rubbish to landfills than it does to get recycled.
There are over fifteen hundred landfill sites in the UK. These sites are responsible for producing twenty five per cent of the UK’s total methane output. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which is responsible for twenty per cent of the ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’.
Using natural resources in manufacturing, such as coal, gas and oil all emit harmful gasses into the environment. Along with methane, this has a damaging effect on the atmosphere.
Recycling is the only way we can sustain our planet’s natural resources and prevent harmful gasses from entering our environment. Already, eighteen million tonnes of CO2 a year is saved through current UK recycling efforts. This is equivalent to removing five million cars from our motorways.
In order to support our natural resources, protect our environment and help boost our economy, recycling needs to continue. Contact your local council to find out what materials can be recycled in your area.
Image credit: Free Digital Photos.