For many people, the concept of recycling has become very familiar. Paper waste and plastic bottles now go into different bins, while the actual waste gets picked on the curb. Even with this and the fact that it has become a routine, the concept of recycling and its importance is perhaps glossed over.

Recycling involves more than putting plastic and paper waste inside a bin. Also, there are items with recycling symbols that aren’t recyclable. To ensure that your recyclables get recycled, you have to understand the meaning of recycling and its effect on the planet.

What is recycling?

It doesn’t matter if it’s paper, aluminum, or plastic. These materials and products can be reused after their original purpose has been fulfilled. In fact, a lot of materials have recycling value. There’s an estimation that almost 75% of all waste can be repurposed or recycled. This percentage just shows how impactful recycling can be when done right.

Virtually everything around you is recyclable, although different techniques are required to handle the different materials. Some common recyclable materials are plastics, metals, glass, paper, garments, clothing, electronics, batteries, and others.

Recycling involves collecting, separating, converting, or remanufacturing used products into usable or new materials. However, if you want to focus on the process and concept of recycling, it must be addressed on a societal and personal level.

Recycling helps to extend the usefulness and life of a product that has served an initial purpose. This is done by making it a raw material and producing something useable. This leads to a host of benefits that affect humans, animals, and the environment.

Benefits of recycling

The following are some of the benefits of recycling:

Environmental Benefits

  1. With the help of recycling, we can prevent tons of material from ending up in landfills – which will create more space for waste that cannot be repurposed. By recycling, people can prevent millions of tons of material from entering landfills, saving space for garbage that cannot be repurposed. Landfills pollute the environment with methane emissions, so if we can reduce them, the better for the environment.
  1. Recycling decreases the need to extract, refine and process raw materials. All these contribute to water and air pollution. If recycling is increased, the pollutants released into the water and air can be significantly reduced.
  1. Since recycling is an energy saver, it will reduce the emission of greenhouse gases – which will, in turn, help to curb climate change.
  1. Making use of recycled materials in manufacturing will significantly reduce energy use – as opposed to using raw materials to produce new products. Also, associated costs like transport will reduce since production isn’t from scratch. Energy use is also reduced as the production phase will not be that extensive.
  1. Recycling converts used materials into new products, thereby decreasing the need to make use of natural resources. If these materials aren’t recycled, raw materials will have to be extracted from the Earth to make these products that could’ve been made with recycled material. Recycling goes a long way in conserving the finite natural resources on Earth. It also protects a lot of natural habitats.
  1. In addition to all these reasons, recycling helps to reduce litter overflow. This ensures that Earth’s natural beauty is preserved.
  1. Regarding energy, one light bulb can be powered for a maximum of four hours using the energy saved from recycling a glass bottle.

Economic Benefits

  1. Recycling plays its part in a circular economy that sees everything as a resource instead of waste. Competent-run recycling programs will cost taxpayers, business owners, and the government funds less than waste programs.
  1. With an increase in positive recycling habits, there should be a significant increase in job creation. For every job created in the waste management industry, the recycling industry will be able to create four.
  1. Persons can make some money by collecting materials from a recycling facility willing to pay for the approved materials.
  1. It is six times cheaper to dispose of recycled waste than general refuse. The more people recycle and the less they put things in the bin, the more money they can save in their households, businesses, offices, and public services.
  1. With the local recycling of materials, it will boost the local economy by making available more job opportunities in the recycling industry. These recycling efforts will also lead to the creation of new businesses such as transportation, collection, manufacturing, processing, packaging, etc. – which will pave the way for a more sustainable future.
  1. The tourism sector of some countries can be boosted with the help of recycling. Clean environments are usually welcoming, which could attract enthusiasts from all over the world. The influx of tourists could also lead to the creation of more jobs and an uptick in the country’s foreign exchange reserve.

How does recycling work?

Step 1: Collection

Materials billed for recycling are usually collected via drop-off centers, deposit programs, and curbside programs. When the recyclable products have been collected, they will be taken to a facility to be prepared and sold to companies tasked with processing. Companies that recycle on a larger scale will use baling machines, to create large bales of material held together by wires sourced from places like

Step 2: Processing

Once the processing companies receive the recycled materials, they are then sorted and processed into materials good enough to be used in the manufacturing process.

Step 3: Manufacturing

The recyclables have to be liquefied, melted, or broken down. After this, new materials can then be made out of them. They can also be mixed with other resources to create other new materials. These recycled and processed materials can then be sold since they are now raw materials. These materials can then be used to manufacture household items like glass containers, aluminum cans, paper towels, and newspapers, among other things.

Step 4: Consumption

The products made with the recycled materials are now ready for consumption. When this step is reached, it means the loop is closed as consumers will buy products that have been made from products that they had earlier consumed.