Glass, metals, building materials, plastics and clay ceramics are all made from raw materials. However, these raw materials are in limited supply and many of them are becoming more scarce.
We can reduce the need for these raw materials by reusing some of the products that are made from these materials. For example, we can reuse clothes or glass bottles multiple times before discarding them.
Some products cannot be reused, so they are recycled instead. For example, broken glass is crushed and melted, and reformed into different usable glass products.
Similarly, metals can be melted and recast into different products. For example, the circuit boards in electronics contain many precious metals, which can be recycled into jewellery.
Reusing and recycling products saves energy and reduces our environmental impact.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Recycling
Reduced greenhouse gas emissions – Extracting raw materials requires a large amount of energy, often coming from burning fossil fuels. Recycling reduces the need for extraction, leading to lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Conserved resources – Increased metal recycling reduces the need for quarries and mines to extract limited resources from metal ores.
Economic benefits – Recycling metals is more cost-effective than extracting them from raw ores due to reduced mining, transportation, and processing expenses. These savings enable recycling companies to invest in job creation and product innovation, which contributes to a more sustainable economy.
Energy efficiency – Recycling metals is more energy efficient than extracting them. This is because mining and processing the ore, as well as shaping and treating the metal for use requires a large amount of energy.
Transportation costs – Energy and fuel are required to transport recycled products.
Sorting challenges – It can be difficult to sort different metals before recycling.
Quality concerns – The quality of the recycled products may not be as high as the original items.