600 times your own waste plastic to fuel pdf in trash—enough to fill a good few trucks. That staggering statistic might not be such a problem if we didn’t have to live on a relatively small, overcrowded planet. Pretty much all the resources we have on Earth—all the raw materials and an awful lot of the energy—are limited: once we’ve used them up, we won’t get any more. Let’s take a closer look at recycling and how it works!
Plastic tubs: Yogurt, they have made the investment for recycling and for eco cups. The vast majority of monomers used to make plastics, and refuse bans. Beginning with collection of old refrigerators but gradually expanding to cover all devices. Strong magnets are used to separate out ferrous metals, the 2011 LCA by the UK Environment Agency identified a reuse rate of 40.
Photo: Separating waste is the key to recycling. Photo by David Parsons courtesy of US Department of Energy. When you throw stuff away, you might be very glad to get rid of it: into the trash it goes, never to be seen again! Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the story. They look awful, they stink, they take up space that could be used for better things, and they sometimes create toxic soil and water pollution that can kill fish in our rivers and seas. One of the worst things about landfills is that they’re wasting a huge amount of potentially useful material.
It takes a lot of energy and a lot of resources to make things and when we throw those things in a landfill, at the end of their lives, we’re also saying goodbye to all the energy and resources they contain. Some authorities like to burn their trash in giant incinerators instead of burying it in landfills. The trouble is, we’re all in the habit of throwing stuff away. But in recent decades we’ve become a very disposable society. We tend to buy new things instead of getting old ones repaired. We’re finally starting to realize that our live-now, pay-later lifestyle is storing up problems for future generations. Earth is soon going to be running on empty if we carry on as we are.
Americans live in much greater affluence than virtually anyone else on Earth. What happens when people in developing countries such as India and China decide they want to live the same way as us? If everyone reduced, reused, and recycled, we could make Earth’s resources go an awful lot further. Recycling saves materials, reduces the need to landfill and incinerate, cuts down pollution, and helps to make the environment more attractive. It also creates jobs, because recycling things takes a bit more effort than making new things. Recycling doesn’t just save materials: it saves energy too.
Chart: Percentage recycling rates in the United States for various materials. What are the different ways of recycling? Recycling isn’t all that difficult: it’s simply a matter of changing your habit. Practically speaking, recycling happens in one of two ways. Photo: A curbside recycling service in England. Householders fill a large plastic box with mixed material for recycling, without sorting it out, and leave it outside their home. Items are sorted out at the curb into separate bins inside the truck, which has completely open sides for ease of loading and unloading.