How Can Recycling Materials Lead To Environmental Sustainability?
Everyone knows the importance of recycling. Small, intentional changes can make a difference, but how exactly can recycling materials lead to environmental sustainability?
There’s some debate about whether or not recycling can actually make a positive impact on the environment, and we are here to tell you: Yes, it does in fact make a difference.
In this article, we will discuss how recycling materials can lead to environmental sustainability. But first, let’s define that key term.
What Is Environmental Sustainability?
Environmental sustainability is the pursuit of creating and maintaining the conditions for humans and nature to coexist in productive harmony.
Simply put, everything that humans depend on, whether directly or indirectly, relies on our natural environment. So, it is our responsibility to protect it.
Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, but understanding how recycling benefits the environment is a great first step toward sustainability.
6 Ways Recycling Materials Can Lead To Environmental Sustainability
So, now that we know exactly what environmental sustainability is, we can delve into the 6 key ways recycling can lead to sustainability.
1. Saves Energy
Processing recycled materials is much easier than processing new materials. Since it doesn’t take as much energy to recycle as it does to use raw materials, recycling is much more energy efficient.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one ton of paper could conserve enough energy to power an average American home for six months. Lighting alone accounts for 13% of global electricity consumption and 5% of greenhouse gases.
So, small changes like recycling in your home and turning off the lights when you leave a room could save a significant amount of energy. Therefore, recycling leads to energy conservation, which in turn contributes to sustainability.
2. Helps Conserve Natural Resources
New materials are harvested from natural resources, and this can have detrimental effects on wildlife and the environment in general. Since natural and raw resources are used to create new materials, recycling mitigates the impact that manufacturing has on the environment.
The conservation of natural resources, such as forests, oil, gas, and minerals, is of the utmost importance for the survival of future generations.
3. Lowers Costs
Since recycling saves energy in manufacturing, it subsequently lowers the cost. Instead of having to harvest and process new material, recycling cuts the processing time down.
Thus, recycling lowers the cost of production which helps businesses overall. Recycling also saves consumers money because the cost of some products, like aluminum cans, would skyrocket if they were not recycled.
In the U.S. alone, an estimated $11.4 billion worth of recyclable materials is thrown out each year. Imagine what those savings would do!
4. Minimizes Landfill Waste
One of the ultimate goals of recycling is to reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. Over 14 million tons of recyclable material is sent to landfills each year in the U.S., and this greatly contributes to the number of pollutants emitted from these landfills.
If that material is recycled, it would significantly decrease the amount of material that goes to landfills which ultimately saves energy, reduces production costs, and decreases the environmental pollution that results from landfill processing.
Therefore, recycling reduces landfill waste, which benefits the environment by decreasing the amount of pollution that is emitted.
5. Decreases Greenhouse Emissions
This is perhaps the most important benefit of recycling. As we discussed, manufacturing new products from raw materials can be very detrimental to the environment, and landfills greatly contribute to the amount of methane in the atmosphere.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that causes significant damage to the ozone layer because of its warming effects. Landfills contribute 14.5% of all human-related methane emissions, and at least 25% of global warming is attributed to methane from human actions.
By reducing landfill waste, recycling can help reduce the amount of methane and other greenhouse emissions produced by human activity.
6. Reduces Incineration
A lot of waste from landfills ends up at incinerators around the country. Incineration releases toxic chemicals and other harmful substances into the environment and is therefore a contributor to global warming and greenhouse emissions.
More often than not, it takes more energy to burn material than it does to recycle it. So, recycling reduces the amount of waste that is incinerated, which therefore contributes to environmental sustainability.
Benefits of Sustainability
Sustainability is not a luxury, it is a necessity. We should be doing everything we can to achieve environmental sustainability because it affects our quality of life and the future of the planet.
The benefits of environmental sustainability are numerous, and the best part is that everyone can enjoy them. So, now let’s discuss some of the advantages of living an environmentally sustainable life.
Positive Mental Health Effects
It’s no secret that doing a good deed can make you feel good. So, how does living a sustainable life impact your mental well-being?
A study from the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that there was a significant correlation between sustainable actions and positive emotions. The experiment found that people attribute meaning to sustainable actions as opposed to acting out of social desirability.
Therefore, they discovered that acting sustainability is a moral choice, which subsequently denotes it as a meaningful course of action that elicits positive emotions.
More Money In Your Pocket
As previously mentioned, recycling can save money and lower energy costs. The reduction in energy costs means that your power bills will be lower, and you will be another step closer to a sustainable life.
Sustainability also improves business operating costs by making production more efficient, so companies are able to produce with less environmental impact. Overall, recycled material means less expensive production costs, so products will be more affordable.
As more people start living sustainable lives, clean sources of energy, like wind and solar, will be more and more prevalent. Sustainability means fewer pollutants in our air, water, and landfills.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of waste and debris that spans more than 620,000 square miles. The efforts to clean this debris lead to the development of new technologies.
A nonprofit organization called The Ocean Cleanup successfully created a waste extraction system for this garbage patch that plans to remove 90% of the ocean’s plastic by 2040. This technology would not have evolved if there was not a need for it.
Start Your Sustainability Journey With GLE Scrap
Everyone should strive to live a more sustainable life in order to protect the planet and our futures, and recycling is a great first step.
GLE Scrap Metal purchases, processes, and sells all grades of scrap metal for private companies, demolition organizations, and the general public.
With trusted recycling and processing programs, GLE Scrap performs environmentally friendly scrap metal processing.
So, let GLE show you how recycling materials can lead to environmental sustainability. For questions or more information about the scrap metal materials we recycle, contact us on our website or call 855-SCRAP-88.