With so much concern over global conservation in the media, government and world offices, recycling has become the pioneer in sustainable energy and production. Recycling is one of the most important components of modern waste reduction and is third component of the waste hierarchy "reduce, reuse, recycle".
Recycling is primarily concerned with processing pre-used materials into new products with the aim to prevent waste, reduce consumption of raw materials, reduce energy usage and air and water pollution. This is accomplished by eliminated the need for conventional waste disposal as well as the carbon emissions created by producing new materials.
What can we Recycle
Materials that can be recycled include glass, paper, textiles, metal, plastic and electronics. These are normally brought to a special recycling centre or alternatively picked up from roadsides. This material is then sorted, cleaned and reprocess into new materials for manufacture.
There are also a number of areas where the council operate a recycling scheme, where you place all recyclable goods into a separate bin that is picked up by the council on a fortnightly basis. Arguably another widely-used and promoted form of recycling is the composting/reuse of biodegradable waste, i.e. food and other organic matter such as garden waste.
Ideally the desired result of recycling is to produce a fresh supply of the same material, for example recycled office paper is used to produce more office paper, etc. It is unfortunate that this method of recycling is more expensive or more difficult and as a result producing these objects is often from raw materials.
Normally recycling is for reuse in producing different materials instead, for example cardboard may be recycled to create paperboard. Another major concern in recycling is salvaging materials from what is deemed to be a complex product, such as lead from car batteries. This is due to the high value of such items or, alternatively, their hazardous nature such as removal of mercury from items.
Modern controversy over recycling has lead to critics disputing the economic and environmental benefits of recycling over costs. It has been discussed that proponents of recycling make matters considerably worse and as a result suffer from confirmation bias.
Specifically the main argument is in the costs and energy that are used in collection and transportation counter-act the benefits of recycling the material, as well as outweighing and detracting from the costs and energy that are saved in the production process.
Another concern is that careers within the recycling industry are limited and there have been a number of jobs lost in logging, mining and other industries from virgin production. Some materials such as paper cannot be recycled more than a few times as each time the grade of paper is reduced, preventing further recycling.
Recycling is a key concern amongst the government and at present there are a number of organisations including social services that are endeavouring to promote and contribute to recycling within communities.
Whether critics are right in their view of recycling being more costly and less carbon efficient, the space saved from not using landfills in most people's opinion outweigh this. Through composting and recycling we can eliminate the amount of waste produced daily to a small fraction of what you once threw mindlessly away.