Recycling is something practiced in every household, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is clear on why recycling is so important, and what the benefits of recycling are.
With the UK government setting the target of recycling 65% of our municipal waste by 2035, and the latest figures showing that England is currently only at 45.5%, it’s clear that emphasising the importance of recycling, and why we do it, is key in showing why we need to keep our recycling habits up to scratch.
What is recycling
Recycle is is the third of the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – it is the last step in the chain, so where you can’t reduce, you reuse, and where you cant reuse, you recycle.
Recycling is the process of collecting, separating and remanufacturing waste material into new recycled material and products.
So whether it’s recycling metals, food, paper, glass or plastic, recycling is all about giving materials a new life, and as a result, being kinder on our planet.
Recycling conserves natural resources and reduces demand for raw materials
We don’t have an infinite supply of the world’s natural resources, and unfortunately, some are already in short supply.
Recycling different materials means we don’t deplete the world’s raw materials, and instead allows items to be used over and over again.
So recycling materials leads to fewer new and natural resources being used and exploited. Yay!
- It is estimated that every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees.
- If every person living in Britain purchased one item made from recycled wool per year, it would save 371 million gallons of water!
When you’re doing your food shop, look out for packaging that is both recyclable and where possible, made of recycled materials, that way you know it has the best impact on the planet it can do.
Check out our scrumptious snack bites, which we can proudly say are packaged in 100% recyclable packaging!
Recycling saves energy and money
Recyling reduces or completely eliminates the need to make materials from square one.
This means that making things from recycled materials requires less energy in the manufacturing process compared to the manufacturing of new raw materials.
This is because recycled materials have already been refined and processed, so doing so again is far less energy-intensive.
Manufacturing from raw materials is also labor-intensive and expensive. So recycled materials save on energy and save on expense.
- It takes 75% less energy to make a plastic bottle from recycled materials compared to using raw materials.
- Using raw materials to make one aluminum drink can uses the same amount of energy it takes to recycle 20!
- The amount of energy that is saved from recycling a single glass bottle is enough to power a light bulb for four hours!
Take a scroll on your local council’s website so you can be clued up on everything you need to know in order to recycle correctly in your household. Knowledge is power!
At Gosh!, we use clear plastic trays for all of our products, so this means that they are recyclable with all councils!
Recycling helps to protect natural habitats
By recycling, we reduce the need to use the earth’s natural resources and avoid disruption and damage to the environments those resources come from.
Less damage occurs to forests, rainforests, rivers and seas because they’re not being harvested for materials, but also because there is less water, soil and air pollution being created.
As well as this, recycling leads to less waste ending up in natural environments.
Recycling removes the risk of wild animals consuming or becoming trapped in poorly disposed rubbish.
- The RSPCA receives roughly 5,000 calls a year regarding litter.
- Each year, around 8 million tons of plastic waste from coastal nations end up in the world’s oceans.
- Around 700 animal species, including those that are endangered, are known to have been affected by plastics.
Why not go litter picking at a beach near you? It is a great way to teach future generations about the importance of recycling and proper waste disposal, whilst being hugely beneficial to the environment you’re clearing by keeping unwanted waste from entering the ocean.
Recycling results in less pollution
Making new materials requires processes such as mining, quarrying and refining, all of which require a lot of energy and result in significant air, soil and water pollution.
Recyling means these processes arent necessary and therefore the manufacturing processes behind making recycled products are more environmentally friendly.
- It has been estimated that recycling paper reduces air pollution by 73%, and water pollution by 35%.
- Recycling steel is said to reduce 86% of air pollution and 76% of water pollution.
- Research has suggested that using recycled glass decreases air pollution by 20%.
Start a family compost bin. Composting is a fantastic way to bring education on recycling into your household. Not only can it educate your kids on important environmental considerations but it can also foster a love and appreciation for nature and gardening!
Plus, it keeps food waste from entering landfill, where it can rot and turn into methane, a greenhouse gas that is even more potent than carbon dioxide.
Here at Gosh! we’re incredibly proud to say we are a zero-waste to landfill manufacturer, with any of the food waste that we create being turned into renewable energy in the form of bio-fuel. Check out more info here!
Recycling helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The lower amount of energy that is needed to process recycled materials translates to fewer fossil fuels being burned and therefore reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
So recycling massively helps us to tackle climate change and decrease global warming.
It also encourages sustainable economic growth by promoting more eco-friendly manufacturing processes.
- Around 40% of British methane emissions come from landfill sites
- The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Evidence has shown that recycling saves over 700 million tons in co2 emissions every year!
This may seem like a super obvious one, but flatten all of your cardboard boxes. This way, you can fit more items into your recycling bin or box, meaning more room for optimum recycling!
Recycling reduces landfill waste
In the UK, it is estimated that we send over 15 million tons of household rubbish to landfill each year.
Landfill sites are a major form of pollution and lead to the production of toxins, leachate and greenhouse gases.
So it’s pretty much a no-brainer that we want to prevent as much waste as possible from going to these sites.
By encouraging better waste management, such as recycling, we can reduce the size of our landfills and in turn reduce the climate-damaging effects they have on our environment.
- 1 billion black plastic food trays go to landfill every year in the UK
- It is estimated that the amount of annual food waste generated in the UK will generate over 25 million tons of emissions if landfilled.
Recycling creates more jobs
The recycling industry is a big one, which means it provides tons of employment opportunities.
In fact, one study has suggested that recycling boosts local employment across the world, with the industry employing around 1.6 million people worldwide.
And not only does green waste create more jobs, but it also seems to create better jobs. Research has shown that zero waste jobs, that is, jobs in recycling, remanufacturing, repair and composting, provide higher wages, better quality of life and more permanent positions compared to landfill and incinerator jobs.
- Repair creates over 200 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators globally.
- Recycling creates over 50 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators globally.
- Remanufacturing creates almost 30 times as many jobs as landfills and incinerators globally.
As well as recycling, make sure you’re following the other two R’s – reduce and reuse.
So begin with reducing, which requires eliminating as much waste as possible. This can be done through sustainable lifestyle swaps such as reusable coffee cups, it can also be done through things like meal prepping and shopping in sustainable supermarkets. Check out our Meal Prep Series here, and our Easy Zero Waste Swaps For Eco-Friendly Living article, for more tips and info on reducing your waste.
Where you cant reduce, you should reuse. So you may donate an item to somebody else to give it a new life, or upcycle something so it becomes something else entirely!
And finally, finish by recycling anything you cant reduce or reuse!
Practicing the three R’s is a fantastic way to make sure you’re being conscious and kind to the planet.