Recycling: A Waste Of Effort? Essay

2346 words - 10 pages

“Waste includes all items that people no longer have any use for, which they either intend to get rid of or have already discarded” (European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production). Some examples of waste can include household rubbish, waste from manufacturing items, old televisions or any other electronic items etc. Thus, all of our daily activities produce waste in some form or the other. The fact is that the more we grow the more waste we will produce; there is a direct relationship between the increase in standard of living and the amount of waste that is produced to sustain this growth.

“Waste is a part of the economy – it is a by-product of all economic activity ...view middle of the document...

A firm’s or government’s decision to manage this waste is a matter of weighing the costs and benefits associated with the initiatives that they undertake. Some of the methods of waste disposal are land filling, incineration, resource recovery which includes recycling and reuse of waste, and the avoidance of waste creation otherwise known as reduction. However, each of these methods has its own cost and benefit. This report looks at recycling as a method of waste management and its impact on the environment.
A recurring debate that surrounds waste management is whether recycling has any genuine benefits to the environment or is just a waste of time and resources. Critics of recycling efforts often suggest that it more energy is used in getting the materials to the recycling facilities than we save by actually recycling them.

First and foremost we need to understand what recycling is about. Recycling is the processing of used materials into new products in order to prevent the waste of potentially useful materials, to reduce the consumption of raw materials, to reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution and waste pollution (from land filling) and lowering the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Over the years there has been considerable attention given to recycling as a method of waste management. The benefits of using this method are that it conserves the natural resources, reduces the amount of waste that is sent to landfills or is incinerated, saves energy and reduces green house gas emissions and pollution.

According the a study conducted by the Waste and Resource Action Programme (WRAP) on the environmental benefits of recycling in the UK; 8.6 million tonnes of paper the UK recycled has saved around 11 million tonnes of C02 emissions which is equivalent to 3.6 million cars off the road. Secondly, shipping materials like used plastic bottles and paper for recycling to China produces less C02 than sending them to a landfill here in the UK and using new materials. Thirdly, more energy is saved by recycling plastics than by burning them – it saves around 2 tonnes of C02 equivalent emissions per tonne of plastic compared to incineration. Recycling of paper, card, glass, plastics and metals currently saves over 18 million tonnes of C02 equivalent green house gas emissions. (Waste and Resource Action Programme)

Currently in the UK around 40% (as of 2011) of the household waste is recycled compared to the 11% in 2000/01. 52% of commercial and industrial waste was recycled in 2009 compared to the 42% in 2002/03; however UK still has a considerable amount of waste which is sent to landfills each year. Around 55% of all municipal waste is sent to landfill compared to the European Union average of 40%.

Recycling is considered to be the best way to manage waste as sending it to landfills increases the emission of green house gases, according the DEFRA 89% of all green house gases in the UK result from waste being sent to...

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