Recycling is the process of collecting used materials and creating new products to prevent the waste of potentially useful materials. The huge amount of waste we produce every day has fulfilled landfills in the last few years, creating a major problem for the environment. Today many of us know what recycling is and the importance of it, however with so many types of products and materials and multiple packaging symbols, it is not always easy to distinguish what is recyclable from what is not. To make recycling easier for people, the government should provide bins and clarify the correct way of recycling of each material. Statistics from 2017 show that Germany has the best recycling rate in the world. Austria comes in second, followed by South Korea and Wales. All four countries manage to recycle between 52% and 56% of their municipal waste. Switzerland in fifth place recycles almost half of its municipal waste.
What can be recycled?
Types of recycling:
These materials are delivered to a household recycling center or picked up from bins, then sorted, cleaned and reprocessed into new materials. The recycling gets sent to where there is a reliable and financially sound market for the materials.
Paper is made from the pulp of trees. Each day we use tons of paper nationwide for printing and writing which are then thrown away as scrap. Every ton of recycled paper or cardboard can save up to 17 trees. If the paper is not recycled they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and substantial garbage dumps at landfills. When we recycle paper, we save a million trees on our planet and prevent deforestation. Cardboard is a high-quality material that is often used for packaging and shipping different products. Recycling just one ton of cardboard saves nine cubic yards of landfill space. It is essential to fold cardboard boxes before recycling them to save more space in the containers.
Today plastic is the most popular and most used material in our economy. The recycling of plastic has become a major issue worldwide as it is the most significant solid waste occupying landfills and our oceans as well. Most plastic is non-degradable, they can take over 500 years to decompose.
The process of plastic recycling:
Recycling of plastic requires less energy than making plastic from scratch, which saves energy and billions of money as well.
Although all metals are recyclable, most scrap metal does not get recycled. Non-iron based metals such as aluminum and steel can have some of the highest recycling rates. Statistics show that 48.2 percent of aluminum cans are recycled, along with 62.8 percent of steel cans. Of the 250 million tons of waste that enters the municipal stream, metals account for 21 million tons or 8.4 percent.
Metal recycling process:
The cost of recycling aluminum is very low compared to the production of new aluminum.
Improper disposal of electronic devices can easily lead to environmental and also health hazards. Ways of recycling also include returning or selling your electronic devices. Before buying any electronic equipment it is useful to check if the company has a return policy on taking back unused or not functioning electronic items. Roughly 100 million cell phones get replaced each year, that’s a lot of arsenic, lead, zinc and other pollutants that could enter the environment. Resist the temptation to buy every new phone, laptop, camera that comes out and try to extend the lifespan of your existing electronics as much as possible.
Wood is a very popular material used mainly in the building industry, which is wasted if it ends up in the landfills. However, if it is recycled wood can be reused as building material or for paper production. Without wood recycling, a large percentage of the planet’s trees might have to be harvested. You can also reuse wood at home in creative ways. Wood pallets are commonly used in gardening as well as in DIY projects such as furniture.
This material has the ability not to lose its quality and purity when recycled, which means they can be recycled over and over again. Glass can take around one million years to fully decompose. Waste bottles and jars can be melted down and used again and again. When the glass is taken to a manufacturing or recycling plant, it is broken up into smaller pieces called cullet. The broken pieces are crushed, sorted, cleaned, and prepared to be mixed with other raw materials like soda ash and sand.
In conclusion, there are a lot of things we can do to help the recycling process of the materials and products that we use in our households. What we need to do is think harder about how we produce waste and how we dispose of it. It will always be better not to produce waste in the first place than to recycle it. The main goal of sustainability is to take advantage of renewable resources and use less energy.
Recyclable products can be easily seen as a renewable resource.
In the present situation, our beloved earth needs to be rescued and only recycling can save us from an environmental catastrophe.
Be responsible and considerate in your environment, save as much as you can and last but not least plant trees!
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