The Benefits of Material Recycling

January 15, 2013

The concept of recycling is far from being a novel one. In fact, the history of recycling activities can be traced as far back as 400 BC, when it was quite popular in Greece. Moving on to more recent times, paper, one of the most valuable items (for a variety of purposes), was first recycled in the latter half of the seventeenth century. While the prime focus of such initial recycling endeavors was to make the most out of the available supplies, the attention has somewhat shifted, over the passage of time. Since the last hundred years or so, recycling of different materials is mainly being done to reduce environmental pollution levels, and cut down upon unnecessary wastage of non-renewable resources. Some of the main ways in which recycling has helped the worldwide society over the last century are:

  • Bringing down inordinate energy usage – Producing new products from recycled materials ranks high on the energy-efficiency count. Recycling products requires much lesser energy than what would have been required, if the concerned product had to be manufactured from scratch. This is particularly true for plastic, steel, paper and aluminum recycling.
  • Reducing the risk of environmental pollution – Over the last century, the awareness of the necessity to recycle and/or properly dispose of worn out materials has steadily increased among individuals. Regular recycling, in turn, has significantly brought down air and water pollution levels. More industrial houses taking it upon themselves to make sure that the environment is not, in any way, adversely affected by their activities. The total level of harmful carbon emissions has also gone down. Risks of soil erosion have diminished too.
  • Removing the problems of garbage dumps and landfill areas – In the absence of recycling, garbage/waste products were, in general, in discriminately dumped on landfill areas. Apart from occupying a significant land area that could have been put to other, more productive, usage, these landfills also served as the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria, fungus, and several poisonous insects. Recycling has literally helped the society get rid of this burden of accumulated garbage!
  • Protecting the ozone layer of the atmosphere – Since recycling is instrumental in reducing the amount of toxic emissions, it also helps in keeping the ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere intact. This, in turn, ensures that people are not exposed to the potentially harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. Typically, recycling also keeps the release of greenhouse gases under check.
  • Serving as a tool against price increase – There is no reason to assume that all the benefits of recycling pertain to the environment. However, over the last few decades, people have increasingly come to appreciate the fact that, recycled products bear significantly lower price tags, than brand-new items. Provided that the recycling has been done in accordance to the prevailing industrial standards, the question of having to compromise on the quality of the concerned product does not arise either.
  • Preserving the existing stock of non-renewable resources – The tendency of people to take a long-term, holistic perspective has also grown, over the passage of time. More people now understand the importance of protecting the stock of valuable natural, non-renewable earthly resources (coal, oil, etc.), so that they can be used by future generations. The world, after all, is not only about us!
  • The quality of the material does not get tampered – Recycled metal and other scrap materials, in most cases, retain all the properties of the original material. This factor has also bolstered recycling activities over the last century. Apart from steel and aluminum, silver, gold, copper and brass are some of the other widely recycled metals, in different parts of the world.

Knowledge about the manifold advantages of recycling has completely revolutionized the manner in which industrial manufacturing activities are currently conducted. Apart from its considerable environmental advantages, recycling has also paved the way for optimal use of materials. The rate of depletion of the stock of valuable, non-renewable resources from the earth has also been significantly brought down, with the help of recycling techniques. Thanks to recycling methods, we can now look forward to a more efficient, sustainable, ‘greener’ environment!