Recycling is the third of the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). So before we list the four reasons to recycle, we need to remind you that …
- The first step is to try to reduce the amount you consume – if you don’t need it, don’t buy it – and you’ll reduce the amount of waste you generate.
- When you do buy something, choose a brand that has the least amount of packaging or the kind that can be reused, recycled or composted. And look for products that are as Earth-friendly as possible.
- Look also for products that are made from recycled material, if there’s a demand for recycled plastic products, for example, more plastic will be recycled and less will end up in landfill or polluting the oceans. Also less virgin material will have to be mined or grown. Remember, what you buy influences what’s made.
- Before you throw something away, think first if there’s any way it can be reused. Can you grow seedlings in it or use it to hold paper clips or wrap a birthday present? Can it be given to a charity shop or a children’s home? This may sound obvious, but we’ve been living in a disposable culture for so long that some of us forget to ask these kinds of questions.
And, finally …
- Reason 1: Every metric ton of paper recycled saves 17 trees and uses 40 percent less energy, and 50 percent less water. If all household paper/cardboard were recycled 750 000 cubic metres of landfill space would be saved a year, saving local authorities R60-million a year in collection and landfill costs. The energy saved from paper recycling in a year is sufficient to provide electricity to 512 homes for a year. (Source: Paper Recycling Association of SA)
- Reason 2: Glass is 100 percent recyclable but it does not biodegrade. The raw materials for glass – sand, soda and lime – all have to be dug from the earth and melted together at very high temperatures. Energy is saved by recycling. The energy saved from recycling just one bottle will power a 100-watt light bulb for almost an hour. Every ton of glass recycled also saves 1,2 tons of raw materials. (Source: The Glass Recycling Company)
- Reason 3: Cans are 100 percent recyclable. They are melted down to make new steel. This reduces the need to mine new iron ore and saves on the energy used to mine and process it. More than 36 000 tons of high-grade steel is recovered for re-smelting a year. (Source: Collect-a-can)
- Reason 4: A total of 562-million PET bottles were recovered for recycling in 2007 alone. This removed 19 000 tons of plastic from landfill, but that was only 24 percent of the PET bottles made that year. Recycling a ton of PET containers saves 7,4 cubic metres of landfill space. And 19 x 500ml PET bottles can be recycled into enough fibre filling for a standard pillow. (Source: Petco)