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Recycling is often referred to as the Seventh Resource. This term was coined to emphasise the importance of recycling as a valuable resource that can be used to conserve and sustainably manage the Earth's natural resources. The first six resources are typically considered to be air, water, land, minerals, forests, and fossil fuels. Recycling, however, is not a new resource but a process that allows for the reuse of materials that have already been extracted and processed. By recycling, we can conserve the first six resources and reduce the need for new resource extraction, making it an essential part of sustainable resource management.
Recycling is a crucial part of waste management and environmental sustainability. It involves the process of transforming used and discarded materials into new products that can be used again. This process helps reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and minimise the negative impact of human activities on the environment. In this article, we will discuss how recycling helps conserve the Earth's natural resources.
Many natural resources, such minerals and fossil fuels, are finite and can be depleted over time. Others, like forests, take time to reproduce and their reduction (deforestation) has serious consequences on our planet.
Recycling helps to conserve these resources by reducing the need to extract and process raw materials. For example, the production of paper from recycled materials requires 60% less energy than producing paper from virgin wood pulp. It also conserves water resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions associated with paper production.
Metals are another valuable natural resource that can be conserved through recycling. The extraction and processing of metals can be energy-intensive and environmentally damaging. Recycling aluminium, for example, saves up to 95% of the energy required to produce new aluminium from raw materials.
Recycling plastic is also essential for conserving natural resources. Plastic is made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and the production of plastic contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling plastic conserves energy and reduces the demand for new plastic production. For example, recycling one ton of plastic saves approximately 3.8 barrels of crude oil.
Recycling also helps to conserve energy. The production and transportation of goods require a significant amount of energy, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. By recycling materials, we reduce the demand for new products, which in turn reduces the energy needed to produce and transport them. This helps to conserve non-renewable energy resources and reduce carbon emissions.
Recycling also helps to reduce the environmental impact of waste disposal. Recycling is known to be higher up the waste hierarchy than energy recovery via incineration. This is because Recycling is more energy efficient, it saves more energy than Energy from Waste (EfW) creates. See Waste Hierarchy below:
Landfills can also produce methane gas a potent greenhouse gas that will contribute to climate change if it’s not captured and used to create energy in gas turbines. By recycling, we reduce the amount of waste that needs to be incinerated or sent to landfills, which helps to mitigate these environmental impacts.
Recycling also plays an important role in supporting biodiversity by reducing the negative impact of human activities on natural habitats and ecosystems. The production and extraction of raw materials often involve habitat destruction, soil erosion, and water pollution, which can have detrimental effects on biodiversity.
Recycling is not just about managing waste; it is a critical part of environmental sustainability and a responsible way to manage our natural resources. We all have a role to play in recycling and conserving the Earth's natural resources, and by doing so, we can help to create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
J&B Recycling are based in the North of England. Our commercial collection services operate from the Scottish Borders down to Hull and North Yorkshire. Our main areas for collecting and processing commercial waste include Teesside (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton), Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Get in touch for more information and to request a quote.