Madhur Rathi is the CEO and Co-founder at Recycle Bell Private limited (Econiture). He looks after Holistic Business, finances, Econiture Branding & online sales. With graduation in B.E. (Industrial Engineering) and MBA (Operations), he is an expert in waste segregation and processing and has prior experience in the waste management industry.
With the massive consumption of material goods, every resident, organisation, and human activity produces waste on a regular basis. Globally, it is estimated that each individual produces an average of 0.74 kilograms of waste every single day. With rapid population growth and urbanisation, annual waste generation is expected to increase by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion tons in 2050. This concern calls for action, ‘recycling,’ to ensure a sustainable and livable environment for all. It is time to reiterate the fact that Earth has a limited amount of resources that will get exhausted at some point. Thus, recycling helps in saving these new resources for future generations to ensure sustainable development. Primarily in recycling, we use waste to make new products, which in turn saves new resources from getting exhausted.
From an environmental perspective, recycling helps in protecting and giving our nature the required time to replenish. It helps prevent one of the biggest threats to human lives: deforestation. Due to paper recycling, the cutting of new trees is reduced. Also, the increasing trend of producing and purchasing recycled furniture has been a positive change in this segment. With the use of recycled furniture, made from wood or plastic waste, trees that would otherwise have been used to make new furniture are saved.
There’s more to recycling; this includes the conservation of one of the main functioning elements of earth, which is energy. Preventing waste generation and reusing can decrease the need to extract “virgin” resources from forest covers, oil fields, and mines, to make items and packaging. Involving reused materials in the manufacturing system utilises significantly less energy than expected for producing new items from raw materials. In addition, it also saves additional costs which are required to extract, refine, transport, and process raw materials ready for industry compared with providing industry-ready materials. For instance, recycling aluminum cans consume 90% less energy than manufacturing them from bauxite ore. Similarly, making paper from pulped recycled paper uses 40% less energy than making it from virgin wooden fibers.
Recycling also reduces the carbon footprints in the environment and reduces the pace of climate change. It significantly reduces the extraction of raw materials and the amount of fossil fuels burnt in the process of producing new goods. It takes fewer resources, effort, and money to recycle material into new products. Therefore, it generates less carbon footprint compared to making products from scratch. One of the pollutants of our environment is plastics, which if not safely thrown into the recycling can be carried into water bodies or miles away affecting the water bodies and the allied lives. It is estimated that the amount of energy that can be saved from recycling one glass bottle has the capacity to power an old 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours and a low-energy LED bulb for a much longer time.
Recycling also means that there is less waste going into the landfills and less generation of Methane. It is concluded that Methane is a detrimental greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide and is produced when organic products such as paper, food, etc decompose under anaerobic conditions in the landfills. Most of the waste generated from varied sources goes into landfills which results in its expansion. Also, organic waste turns to compost in some time but recyclable or inorganic waste takes lots of time to decompose hence polluting the environment. Recycling reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfills hence saving space, money, and environmental pollution.
Apart from its environmental benefits, recycling also has a huge impact on the economic front. It is economically rewarding which makes it a win-win situation for both the planet and the people. Firstly, it is considered that manufacturing from recycled materials is far cheaper which can cut half of the cost and add to the pockets of the consumers. Secondly, the recycling industry is a growing field, which is generating mass employment by creating new jobs. Industries such as glass and paper manufacturers, steel mills, collection centers, recycled material wholesalers, material reclaimers, converters, and recoverers are pivotal areas of job creation. Thirdly, it is a great source of revenue generation. Most countries can earn handsomely through sales and imports of recyclables.
From manufacturing to job creation and revenue generation, the economic implications of recycling are huge. However, in today’s time, it is far more important to remember and inculcate all the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle equally. Recycling alone is insufficient to change the landscape of our environment if individuals don’t practice reducing and reusing. By incorporating small habitual changes such as avoiding purchasing more than what is needed, resuing all those products which can be used, etc. individuals can contribute towards the bigger goals. Additionally, practicing source segregation is another important step. People should segregate waste into wet and dry waste which makes the process of recycling easier and otherwise ends up in landfills. Also, so as to make recycling economically feasible, people need to buy recycled products and packaging. When recycled products are bought, it provides an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured, and marketed as new products.
It is the need of the hour that recycling becomes a part of every individual’s life to ensure sustainable living for one and all before it becomes too late.