Is Recycling Really Worth It?
Most people support the concept of recycling, which is the act of taking waste products and turning them into new forms that can be used again. It is a practice with many obvious benefits, but it can also have some potential drawbacks as well. Here’s a look at some of the positive and negative effects of recycling.
A definite plus for recycling is that it saves natural resources in a number of ways. For one thing, whenever the raw materials that went into making the original product can be reused, it becomes unnecessary to invest energy into getting new raw materials for more products. Since there is a finite amount of resources in the world, recycling helps to ensure that our resources don’t run out and are available for future generations.
If you have to constantly manufacture products from scratch, then you must continually invest the same amount of time and energy. However, recycling cuts out a lot of the expensive process of making new products, thereby allowing manufacturers to save money that can then be turned into higher profits for the businesses and lower prices for the consumer. In this sense, recycling is not just good for the environment, it is good for the public purse and the business bottom line as well.
A major cause of pollution is the industrial waste created by manufacturing consumer products. However, much of the pollution causing manufacturing process can be reduced or eliminated through recycling. Instead of throwing products away and manufacturing from scratch, recycling allow the same materials to be used again in ways that avoid the need for new raw materials and the landfills for discarded products. It is similar to how an e cigarette reduces the waste from cigarette butts and pollution from tobacco smoke.
Recycling doesn’t happen by magic. Someone has got to go out and gather the objects to be recycled and then ship them to where they can be processed. The act of retrieving and then selling the recovered materials also requires people who know how to do these things. In other words, recycling creates jobs, thereby strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment.
Unfortunately, there is also a downside to recycling, and that is the fact that not all forms of recycling are cost effective. In some cases, the technological cost of recovering the materials surpasses the amount of money you can make from selling it. In those cases, government subsidies by taxpayers may be required, which is something that is not always popular with voters. Where the cost is too prohibitive, we may simply have to wait for the technological breakthroughs that will allow recycling to make economic sense.
Another potential drawback is the fact that not everything recycled is of the same quality as the original. For some substances, the act of recycling cause a degradation in the grade of the material. In those cases, recycling may not make sense from a quality control perspective.
Recycled products are clean and safe, but the facilities for doing the recycling may be another story. Recycling by its very nature requires gathering all kinds of waste, some of which may pose pollution and cleanliness issues of their own. Many recycling processes involve water, which poses the potential of pollution leaking from the recycling site into drinking water. Generally, this is something that can be controlled by technological precautions, but these measures cost money that can make the recycling process unprofitable.
Like most things in life, recycling has both positive and negative aspects. Increasingly, the negatives of recycling are being reduced by technological innovations that are lowering costs, improving quality and eliminating any negative ecological impact of recycling facilities. In the long run, the positive effects of recycling such as savings on energy, resources and pollution control, will cause the levels of recycling to increase.