Recycling matters, here's why
Reduce, reuse, recycle. This became a classic recycling tagline when governments stepped up their efforts and began encouraging people to recycle more. The problem with a slogan is that over time we hear it so often and become numb to the key message. So, what makes recycling so important and why should we recycle?
To Conserve & Protect
Recycling is about conserving resources and when we recycle we eliminate the need for new material.
Take a newspaper for example - in the UK 87% of newspapers are made from recycled newspapers. This directly contributes to lowering deforestation, and it's easy to see the results. The problem lies in the disconnect between the seriousness of the issues. Deforestation is usually associated with Brazil or faraway places, but it remains prevalent in the UK today. In 2016, campaigners pointed out that England was heading towards a state of deforestation.
"We are only planting 700 hectares (1,730 acres) a year, almost certainly less than we are felling", Austin Brady, Director Woodland Trust.
When you consider the seriousness of this claim, it is a reminder that your actions and attitudes are having a direct effect on the environment. While some large industries are addressing the problem, individuals must also step up. Every time paper is not recycled, the damaging sourcing process starts all over again.
Recycling in the UK reduces the amount of mining, quarrying and, as mentioned, logging. This reduction helps recycling offset the carbon footprint of 5 million cars, reducing air and water pollution. Producing the raw materials needed for household items can take its toll on the environment. The journey from raw material to a drinks can is a classic example.
In the past 100 years, the amount of energy used to make a can has been halved 45% however are still made using carbon-based fuels. The materials are often sourced in environmentally sensitive places such as Brazilian rainforests.
From the mining stage, an aluminium can is beginning to leave a negative mark on the environment. Initially, logging takes place then mining and eventually replanting, and the first 2 stages require a lot of electric consumption. For every tonne of aluminium cans produced, 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide is released into the environment. By the time the container reaches the shelf, its carbon trail grows in transit.
The short journey
If you are ever in doubt that your small recycling habits can make a huge difference, note the alternative lifespan of a can.
Recycled cans have a much shorter journey to sale. When recycled locally, they immediately cut their air miles and can be redistributed to nearby bottling companies. Recycling plants will heat the metal and transport it as ingots, and some are large enough to make 1.5million cans! When the aluminium is re-heated, formed and filled it is market ready.
Amazingly a recycled can needs 5% of the energy of a newly formed one. This helps to reduce landfill, and some experts believe cans account for 14 million full bins. The knock-on effect of recycling cans is unbelievable and has sweeping benefits, so why would you send them to landfill?
Check back each week for more great recycling tips.