What are the Pros and Cons of Recycling?

As you’re reading this line right now, thousands of waste are getting dumped.

This year already, we have created almost 300 million wastes, and the worst part, it’s growing every second, and we have no control.

Recycling is one of the Three R’s of Waste Hierarchy – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Recycling is a process of hope that maybe, we can better manage our waste. Technically, recycling involves converting used materials and solid wastes into usable products. Today, waste management is an alarming issue. If not dealt with shortly, this issue can get significantly worse over time, causing severe problems across the globe.

Now let’s discuss if recycling is actually a good initiative or just a gentle pat on the back for false hope?

Recyclable Materials:

Paper: Paper waste such as newspapers, books, magazines, notebooks, and cardboard boxes are recyclable.

Glass: Glass products like broken glasses, glass cutlery, wine bottles, and beer bottles are recyclable.

Metals: Metal products that can be recycled are spray cans, paint cans, soda cans, and fruit cans.

Plastic: Plastic is not very recyclable. The only types of easily recyclable plastics are PETE (Polyethylene Terephthalate) and HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene). PETE is present in bottles, food packaging, textiles, and clothes while HDPE is present in plastic stationery, benches, roadside curbs, toiletry packaging containers, tables, and more.

For a sustainable and waste-free world, recycling has become a global trend and a necessary practice. Although it seems like a good deed that might compensate for the damage we’ve done to our planet, recycling also comes with a heavy load of cons. So, in order to save the world, are we really making our environment cleaner, or instead, making it more polluted than ever?

Pros of Recycling

1. Environmental Benefits

Recycling, in simple words, means to reuse the waste in different ways. As a result, there is less demand for the manufacturing of new products, and thus, there is less use of resources and less waste.

Recycling paper products also encourages afforestation and discourages deforestation. For example, the Amazon forest continues to get demolished in huge magnitudes for the manufacture of paper products. So, there’s a severe threat to the environment right now.

Preserving the forest reduces the risk of natural disasters like landslides and floods while also improving the air quality. Forests also provide shelter and nourishment to the wild animals and birds.

2. Moderates Global Warming

The modern world is the age of global warming. The earth’s inclining temperature is melting the sea ice and glaciers, shifting the usual precipitation patterns, and changing the entire ecosystem of the world.

If the industries and manufacturing companies recycle non-biodegradable wastes, it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases generated by their factories and plants. Additionally, if we opt to use reusable energy sources like solar power or wind energy, it minimizes the use of fossil fuels. Minimal use of fossil fuels helps to emit a high amount of carbons and other harmful gases.

3. Reduces Energy Consumption

If you choose to manufacture the raw materials into new and usable products, it has to go through several processes like mining, extraction, transportation, and assembling. This process involves an enormous amount of resources, energy, and effort.

Instead, if you choose to recycle waste materials, it remarkably minimizes the use of energy consumption and increases efficiency. Along with that, it also preserves natural resources like wood, minerals, and water for future usage, ensuring sustainability.

4. Minimizes Waste Products and Reduces Pollution

Another significant concern is the waste management of non-biodegradable products. The solid waste takes an extended amount of time to decompose. When these waste materials are left to rot in landfills or burned in incinerators, they leach harmful chemicals and contaminate the land, air, and water. Also, industrial waste pollutes the environment and creates litter.

However, if you choose to recycle these waste materials, you can transform the trash into fresh products. Instead of manufacturing these products from scratch, recycling them helps to reduce the possibility of littering and overflow of the rubbish. It also promotes proper and responsible waste management and put a stop to traditional disposable methods.

5. Environmental Consciousness

The concept of recycling is simply revolutionary. It is a gateway to ecological activism that will help to preserve the resources of the planet for future generations. When a person starts to become familiar with the concept of recycling, they gain more eco-consciousness and thus, might participate in other eco-friendly activities.
Even with small-scale movements like composting, solar energy consumption, and cut-short of single-use plastics, they will encourage people to adapt to the environment-friendly approach and eventually lead to a green lifestyle.

Cons of Recycling

1. Not So Cost-Effective

Recycling is not quite affordable. The initial cost for establishing a recycling protocol requires a large investment. The price includes renting space, collection of waste materials, recycling units, heavy machinery, and utility vehicles.

Most critics also argue that the cost of recycling actually outweighs its benefits. The majority of people can not afford to operate recycling initiatives. Generally, the space for landfills is far less costly, which makes landfill waste disposal much cheaper than recycling. Additionally, the costs also depend on the materials, which is why many choose not to recycle plastics or glasses.

2. Reduces Quality of the Products

While recycling has tons of environmental benefits, the products manufactured from recycled waste may not guarantee quality products. In addition to that, not every recycled item is safe to use. To recycle paper, it requires bleaching. Bleach contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to the environment and human health.

Recycled products also do not stand up in terms of quality and durability while comparing it with the new products. The materials used for recycling are often worn out and fragile and are most likely to get worse over time.

3. Recycling Sites Are Unhygienic and Unhealthy

The process of recycling involves transforming solid waste into new goods, which means the recycling sites hold debris of unhealthy and unhygienic waste. These piles of trash are a source of infectious diseases and bacteria that are hazardous to humans.

The entire recycling process also leads to significant health risks for those individuals who are responsible for recycling these products. Also, if any of these waste comes into contact with water bodies, it ends up contaminating these resources.

4. Might Result in Harmful Pollutants

Most critics argue that the highly regarded environmental benefits of recycling are utterly overrated. While it gives people a sense of the eco-friendly approach, it can also lead to pollution. The recycling process mostly depends on heavy machinery and industrial plants that may leach harmful chemicals.

Additionally, when waste materials such as paint or spray cans are processed, impurities and toxins from original goods can be carried along to the recycled products. So, recycled products may not be safe to use.

5. Not the Ultimate Game Changer

Recycling has plenty of environmental benefits, and it is only the initial step towards preserving it. However, it may give people a false sense that recycling waste alone is enough to eliminate pollution and slow down climate change.
Many critics worry that just because people practice recycling, they may overlook other issues, such as eating animal products and misusing resources being care-free.

Bottom Line

Although recycling is not the solution to major issues, this initiation acts as a stepping stone towards critical issues like climate change, waste management, and pollution.
Recycling has empowered modern businesses and households and created a sense of environmental consciousness. Despite having some disadvantages, recycling is a process that, in the long-term, has a lot to offer in creating a sustainable and eco-friendly world for future generations.