By Larraine Roulston:
Utilizing timber, plastic, steel, aluminum and glass, as well as expensive metals that are found in electronic equipment, come at a cost to the earth and should be reused as many times as possible. As our planet’s resources are limited, recycling has become one of the many environmental efforts that we must do effectively. We feel good about recycling and this has resulted in a reasonably high participation rate. One of the problems, however, is that many well intentioned people include the wrong items. Mirrors and metal coat hangers are among things that do not belong in household recycling containers.
Recyclables placed in clear plastic bags may also cause problems in many regional processing facilities. Municipal public education on what and how to recycle is the key to allowing recycling plants to work efficiently and free of contamination.
Recycling provides jobs though education, collection, transportation, sorting, baling and marketing. It also has the potential to create many more jobs. At festivals or corporate events where massive amounts of waste are generated, extra staff can be hired to offer assistance at recycling stations to insure that participants deposit clean items correctly.
The process of recycling takes less energy to reproduce products than do those manufactured from virgin raw materials. One example — using recycled aluminum saves 95% of the energy that is used to make products from newly mined aluminum.
Mining and processing operations of metals cause pollution. Aluminum is 100% recyclable; and if it were all recovered, air pollutants, and contaminated water containing heavy metals and mine tailings would all be prevented.
By eliminating the amount of packaging and other items destined as trash, landfill space can be saved and landfill methane emissions reduced.
Recycling lowers greenhouse gas emissions. By recycling one ton of plastic, one ton of carbon dioxide is prevented from entering the atmosphere. Glass food containers are 100% recyclable without any loss in quality.
Recycling preserves our natural resources. By recycling one ton of paper, 17 trees are saved. In addition, 380 gallons of oil; 7,000 gallons of water; three cubic yards of landfill space; and 4,000 kilowatts of energy are saved. With the high demand for paper, some timber originates from illegal cutting which adds to the destruction of the rain forest. With steel, recycling one metric ton saves 1,136 kg of iron ore; 454 kg of coal; and 18 kg of limestone.
This decade, citizens need to inquire about recycling efforts by local manufacturers, business offices, restaurants, retail outlets, hospitality sectors and institutions. All renovators should ensure that usable household fixtures be taken to Re-Stores and must strive to recycle as much debris as possible when demolishing existing structures.
Buy “recycled” to support the products and packaging that contain recycled content. Learn about moving toward the new circular economy! As we undergo cultural changes returning us to the principles of nature where nothing goes to waste, we should be mindful that recycling is essential.
Check out this video from a recycling center:
Recycling Facts — A Recycling Revolution
Larraine writes the children’s book series on composting and pollinating. To order, visit www.castlecompost.com.