We now live in a world where in the more developed nations, recycling is commonplace. We are familiar with the blue bins, the slogans, and the idea that recycling is something we “should do.” But what are the specific benefits of recycling that bottle or can? How does recycling on both a small and large scale benefit our society?
Here are the top 5 benefits that recycling brings to our society and our planet.
Recycling conserves our limited natural resources
In America, 94% of the natural resources consumed are non-renewable. This marks a steady increase in non-renewable resource use since the turn of the 19th century, where only 59% of resources used were non-renewable.
Examples of non-renewable resources are things like oil, natural gas, and coal. These finite resources are being used up at an alarming rate, and once they’re gone, we can’t fully calculate what will happen to our environment and our economy.
By recycling as many materials as possible, we slow the consumption of limited natural resources and buy ourselves time to find alternative sources of raw materials and energy.
Recycling saves energy
According to a study by Stanford University, “The amount of lost energy from throwing away recyclable commodities such as aluminum cans and newspapers is equivalent to the annual output of 15 power plants.”
By recycling materials like aluminum, we can save up to 95% of the energy required to make the same product from virgin materials.
As our power grids struggle to keep up with the increasing energy demand, recycling is a key piece of the puzzle to conserving precious energy resources while providing people with the products and materials they need.
Recycling creates jobs
A report published in the U.K. calculated that by increasing the number of materials recycled from 45% to 70%, at least 50,000 new jobs could be created in the U.K. alone by 2025.
The National Institute of Health calculated that for every 10,000 tons of materials recycled, 36 jobs are created. This is in comparison to only one job for materials incinerated and six jobs for materials landfilled.
By increasing recycling programs, we create much-needed job opportunities, especially in countries and areas with slower economic growth.
Recycling reduces waste
By finding new ways to reuse or repurpose used products and materials, we reduce the amount of waste entering landfills and incinerators worldwide. We are creating waste at alarming rates, and by increasing our demand for goods made from recycled materials instead of virgin or raw materials, we reduce the amount of waste being created and even begin to put a dent in the waste we’ve already created.
Recycling protects our delicate ecosystems
All of the reasons we've listed so far come down to our most important benefit of recycling: Recycling protects the delicate ecosystems of our world. By reducing the need to harvest non-renewable resources, by reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfills, and by saving energy, recycling protects the delicate balance that our environment hangs in.