Due to poor waste management and recycling, non-degradable resources have been accumulating, and natural reserves have been depleting. In addition, the ever-growing demand for new products is leading to environmental pollution. More than ever, recycling practices are paramount to environmental sustainability.
What is recycling?
Recycling refers to converting waste into reusable materials. Recycling involves processing used materials to produce the same or different product as the previous one.
Recyclable resources include scrap metals, electronic scrap products, worn mechanical and electrical equipment and their components, scrap paper raw materials (such as waste paper, cotton), scrap light chemical raw materials (such as rubber, plastics, pesticide packaging, animal bone, and hair) and scrap glass.
Recycling controls resource depletion
Everything we feel or observe exists in one of two forms: matter or energy. In simple terms, matter, liquid or solid, is something we can experience by touch. The matter we extract from the earth changes and becomes the products we use.
On the other hand, energy can only be used or transformed into another form. For instance, fossil fuels extracted from deep underground or ocean are burnt to obtain energy that expands and moves piston fixed to a cylinder, which rotates the wheels of vehicles. Manufacturing industries consume a significant portion of the energy produced as electricity and fuels.
We are dissolving reserves
Man-made commodities are made from pure substances extracted from crude materials excavated from the earth. We have limited natural resources, and they are depleting. It means that we are exploiting the resources, but we do not have a system to replace these resources at the rate we consume them.
Role of recycling
As recyclable materials in non-usable form accumulate, the demand for resources increases. Subsequently, the extraction of substances from their reserves increases, leading to their depletion over time. Recycling practices set salvage materials in circulation and reduce the need for producing fresh materials. It is called sustainable development, which means the world can sustain itself by fulfilling human needs without exhausting natural resources. Over-exploitation of the earth leads to unstable integrity resulting in natural calamities and ecological imbalances that impact human health.
In addition, good recycling practices, such as avoiding contact or mixing between dry and wet waste, allow solid wastes to remain in their pure form. Thus, it avoids or reduces the consumption of water and other chemicals required to treat waste before recycling.
Recycling saves environment
We know well that the basic needs of life, air, and water are already polluted, especially in urban areas. Disciplined waste collection and recycling practices avoid inappropriate disposal of trash. The mixing of plastics in soil and water bodies is causing the entrance of microplastics into the food chain through food and water. They impart severe effects on general health and even cause various diseases.
An increase in demand and a decrease in recycling increases industrial emissions, adding to air pollution. In addition, the production also consumes fossil fuels and electricity, which releases greenhouse gases from burning coal in thermal power plants.
Steps of recycling
1. Collection and segregation of waste
The first step in recycling includes sorting, cleaning, and baling waste. Wet waste can be degraded into nontoxic manure, whereas sorted dry waste enters resource recycling facilities (RRF) as raw materials. A separate collection of dry and wet waste is pivotal for efficient recycling. But lack of awareness of good recycling practices among the public is the point of failure in many cases.
2. Processing of recyclable waste
In the second step, refined waste undergoes relevant physical and chemical processing yielding pure substances. Manufacturing companies use them to mould and fabricate them into new finished products.
3. Introducing recycled products
The final step of recycling is releasing the recycled products into the market for the consumers to purchase them. The quality of these products depends on the standards of segregation and pretreatment of recyclable waste, indicating their importance.
An effective management system for synthetic waste management is crucial for recycling sustainability. The responsibility for the compilation of recyclable wastes and preventing inappropriate disposal lies on everyone on the globe. As responsible intellectuals, we must follow and educate others on the value of recycling practices.