Why Recycling Helps the Environment
14 March 2018
In today’s world, barely a day passes without some form of media coverage on recycling, repurposing, reusing, the environment, pollution, greenhouse gasses, global warming…. the list goes on.
With so much publicity surrounding environmental protection, it is widely acknowledged and accepted in the Western world that the environmental benefits of recycling are huge. But most of us don’t fully understand how or why this is the case.
Here we explain the top reasons why recycling really does help the environment – as well as the processes involved.
1. It Reduces Greenhouse Gas & Global Warming
When we recycle materials, repurpose products and reduce organic waste (including food and green waste), the amount of waste being sent to landfill is reduced.
Organic waste in landfill is compacted and covered (usually with earth) which removes the oxygen and results in the release of Methane and CO2.
These harmful greenhouse gasses trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and are the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.
The effects of global warming on our communities and our health are already significant and will continue to exacerbate unless we become more environmentally responsible as a nation and on a global scale. The main consequences of global warming include:
- Rising water levels and increased flooding – The melting of glaciers causes sea levels to rise, leading to increased flooding. Scientists project that at the current rate of global warming, a number of cities – such as Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Venice and Shanghai to name a few – will be underwater by 2100.
- Droughts – With the rise in temperatures, the prevalence and duration of drought has increased significantly, particularly across Africa, Asia and parts of the USA. A recent NASA study indicated that ecosystems are “taking progressively longer to recover from droughts” and that some areas may be unable to recover at all.
- Other Extreme Weather Conditions – As the temperature of the oceans rises, we are seeing more recurrent and more severe hurricanes and tornadoes, as well as more frequent heat waves. Scientists predict that the frequency and severity of heat waves will continue to rise and by 2100 up to three in four people will be at risk of death by heat-related causes.
- Food Shortages & Famine – As a result of the intense droughts and flooding, crops will be destroyed, or their yield will be suppressed, resulting in a shortage of food. The disruption to our food supply will drive prices upward. In extreme cases, wide-spread famine may occur.
- Death, Disease & Other Health Implications – There are a number of health implications associated with global warming.
Firstly, the release of greenhouse gases reduces the quality of the air, which can lead to asthma attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular issues. It also effects airborne allergens, while
the increase in rainfall can spread water-borne disease and expose humans to more strains.
Scientists also predict that the warmer temperatures will result in higher levels ground-level ozone, a harmful air pollutant which has been linked to a host of respiratory issues and even premature death.
And the increase in extreme heat can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat strokes and even death (usually linked to pre-existing cardiovascular, respiratory and cerebrovascular disorders). The 2003 European heatwave alone killed approximately 70,000 people and with the predicted increase in heat waves, this number is expected to rise.
- Destruction of Forests – Millions of hectares of forest have been destroyed across the globe as a result of the wildfires and strain from drought caused by global warming.
2. Pollution Levels Plummet
Much of the waste material we produce releases toxic substances into our land and groundwater. The top offenders are white goods, televisions and computers which release arsenic, mercury, lead and pathogens.
This waste material, combined with rain water forms a toxic liquid called leachate which pollutes the soil, water and water ways.
By recycling and repurposing, we reduce our waste, thus reducing the levels of pollution we create.
3. Lower Levels of Litter
Lightweight rubbish can easily be dispersed into the surrounding environment by wind and rain. Not only does this cause visual pollution, but it can also harm animals and even result in death from choking or entanglement.
4. Impact on Wildlife
Preparation for a landfill site requires hectares of vegetation to be cleared which can result in the loss of between 30 and 300 hundred species per hectare.
The pollution of soil and water caused by toxic waste can also impact our biodiversity. Local vegetation may become poisoned and case to grow, while animals could die.
So, if we want to become more environmentally-responsible and help to protect our planet, doing our bit to reduce waste is a must.
A simple change we can all make at home and in the workplace is to recycle our waste. At home, the simplest of steps is to place any recyclable waste into a council recycling bin, as opposed to the regular garbage bin, or source a recycling company when looking for skip bin hire.
For workplace waste, ask your rubbish removal company what they do with your waste. Do they have environmentally-conscious practices in place? What proportion of the waste they collect is recycled?
At Instant Waste Management, our core objective is to recycle as much waste as possible, with a 90% diversion from landfill target.
For more information on how you can live a zero-waste lifestyle or learn more about Instant Waste Management’s waste recycling efforts, contact us today.