Benefits of Recycling
- Prevents waste from going into the environment, rivers and ocean
- Prevents waste from going to landfills and incinerators
- Reduces the use of fossil fuel energy
- Reduces CO2 emissions
- Conserves finite natural resources – this is critical for our environment and communities as global human population continues to grow exponentially
- Conserves freshwater, up to 95% saved in the mining and manufacturing process for many materials
- Prevents the extraction of virgin materials, such as oil and aluminum, and associated negative impacts
- Prevents pollution of the air and water that threatens the health of frontline communities
- Increases economic security by supporting domestic supply chains and local manufacturing
- Creates jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries
- Reduces the negative impacts of climate change
Recycling Creates Jobs!
A 2021 GAIA report on “Zero Waste and Economy Recovery” demonstrates that zero waste (recycling, composting, reuse and repair) creates over 200x as many jobs as landfills and incinerators.
A US EPA 2016 Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study found that in a single year, recycling and reuse activities in the United States account for:
- 681,000 jobs
- $37.8 billion in wages
- $5.5 billion in tax revenues
Developing countries are key suppliers of many plastic substitutes, so increased global demand could create new, inclusive greener trade and investment opportunities. For example, 92% of the world’s jute (a natural fiber used to make bags, pouches and packaging) comes from developing countries, with the main suppliers being Bangladesh (74%) and India (9%), likewise 94% of global natural rubber exports in 2019 came from Thailand (31.5%), Indonesia (30%) and Côte d’Ivoire (8.5%) (UNCTAD).
Recycling prevents waste from ending up littered in our environment and causing environmental and human health impacts!
Did-You-Know: The estimated length of time taken for these items to break down in a natural environment e.g. in landfill/beaches/urban environment (ScienceLearn.org) :
- Plastic bottles: 70-450 years
- Plastic bag: 500-1000 years
- Cigarette: 1-12 years
- Fishing line: 600 years
- Glass bottle: 1-2 million years
- Aluminum can: 200 years
- Styrofoam cup: 500 years to forever