We can recycle everything we use – So why don’t we? 

recycle everything we use

Source: World Economic Forum |

Within the broad range of sustainability concepts and activities, recycling is without doubt the most easily understood and accessible: individuals and groups, old and young, communities and institutions can participate. Did you know that we can recycle everything we use?

When we buy a candy bar, we own the wrapper after the short life of the product; doing something with that branded possession, rather than adding to waste, feels good. Recycling is empowering to consumers and, in the case of traditionally recyclable materials such as glass, paper, rigid plastics and certain metals, economically viable. Recycling not only diverts potentially valuable materials from landfills and incinerators, it also offsets demand for virgin materials, helping to keep carbon in the ground. Recycling aligns human consumption with nature’s activities. So why don’t we recycle everything we use?

But as human-generated waste streams continue to evolve in diversity and volume, the global community faces the mounting challenge of developing viable recycling and waste management solutions at a comparable pace.

For example, electronic waste is currently the fastest growing solid waste stream, increasing two to three times faster than other waste streams. More broadly, industrial activities currently generate nearly 7.6 billion tons of solid waste in the US each year – that’s 3000% of the total municipal waste generated by Americans annually. As the world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ecological implications of not prioritizing sustainable resource management are dire.

When we buy a candy bar, we own the wrapper after the short life of the product; doing something with that branded possession, rather than adding to waste, feels good. Recycling is empowering to consumers and, in the case of traditionally recyclable materials such as glass, paper, rigid plastics and certain metals, economically viable. Recycling not only diverts potentially valuable materials from landfills and incinerators, it also offsets demand for virgin materials, helping to keep carbon in the ground. Recycling aligns human consumption with nature’s activities.

But as human-generated waste streams continue to evolve in diversity and volume, the global community faces the mounting challenge of developing viable recycling and waste management solutions at a comparable pace.

For example, electronic waste is currently the fastest growing solid waste stream, increasing two to three times faster than other waste streams. More broadly, industrial activities currently generate nearly 7.6 billion tons of solid waste in the US each year – that’s 3000% of the total municipal waste generated by Americans annually. As the world enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the ecological implications of not prioritizing sustainable resource management are dire.recycle everything we use

Economics, not high science, is what determines recyclability: a material is recycled only if one can make money collecting, sorting and recycling it. The environmental and health costs associated with trash are not currently included in the equations. These costs are considered externalities: society as a whole, rather than the manufacturer, retailer or consumer, absorbs those longer-term costs.

Since the costs of not recycling are excluded from the value equation, linear disposal methods, such as land-filling and incineration, are the principle waste management options for most post-consumer waste streams. These linear solutions have come to haunt us: islands of plastic in the Pacific have begun to disintegrate, fish are eating the micro particles and humans eat the fish. Only by emulating nature and implementing the circular economy can humans arrest and, in time, reverse this vicious cycle.

Please continue reading about how we can recycle everything we use…

Earth News

Author: Earth News


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