Recycling is harmful!
“The paradox of life lies exactly in this: its resources are finite, but it itself is endless. Such a contradictory state of affairs is feasible only because the resources accessible to life can be used over and over again.” – I.I. Gitelson. This is the foundation of all arguments related to recycling; that the resources are finite. And to accommodate needs of future generations and even our present generation, we seriously need to recycle used things. But is recycling as useful and as beneficial as we think?
1. It helps protect the environment. For e.g. recycled paper helps in reducing deforestation.
2. It reduces pollution to a great extent. Many non-biodegradable materials if recycled can help keep the environment clean, safe and healthy.
3. When wastes are burnt, large amount of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 and CFCs are released. These lead to global warming. Recycling reduces these emissions to a great extent.
4. It reduces energy consumption as manufacturing new products consumes large amounts of energy for processing raw materials. Recycling needs lesser energy, making manufacturing cost-effective.
5. Recycling promotes judicial and sustainable use of resources. This process ensures that there is no discriminate use of any material when available in plenty.
6. Recycling helps in conserving important raw materials and protects environment for the future. Conserving natural resources such as wood, water and minerals ensures its optimum use.
7. Recycling reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfills. This helps in reducing water and land pollution as landfills are a major source of such pollution.
8. It also provides employment.
1. Operating and maintaining recycling equipment is not always cost-effective. Sometimes the factories meant for processing reusable products may create more pollution as the products would go under the process of cleaning, storage and transportation.
2. Recycled products are always not of durable quality. Such items are mostly made of trashed wastes which are fragile or used many times. Thus they may not last long.
3. Recycling sites are often unsafe and unhygienic. Such places have the danger of spread of diseases as well as dangers caused by harmful chemicals and waste. This can cause pollution and can be harmful to people who recycle such products. Abandoned dumpsters may contain traces of toxins that can seep into underground water sources or pollute air.
4. Recycling is mostly done on a small scale at home or small factories. It’s not a large scale process. Although recycling is an important step to minimize pollution, saving paper at schools cannot be compared to oil spills or massive tree cutting at industrial level.
5. Setting up new recycling unit involves high cost.
6. In cases of things like plastic, recycling is possible only once. It is called downcycling. You cannot melt down a plastic bottle and recast a new one, so you have to downcycle the plastic into a new form, such as fiberfill insulation. Once that insulation has served its purpose, the plastic fibers are generally unusable for any other purpose and simply enter the waste stream with other trash. Thus in many cases we are simply delaying, not preventing, the eventual trip to the landfill.
7. Some recycled products can have a negative impact on the environment. Reclaimed paper pulp often requires bleaching before reuse and the concentrations of chlorine required can be a toxic hazard and a pollutant if not handled correctly. Bleaching process can expose workers to harsh conditions that can deteriorate their health.
8. Methane gas produced during recycling if allowed to seep out can lead to global warming as it is greenhouse gas.
9. Because of recycling a false sense of security is generated among people that make them more careless consequently leading to generation of more wastes.
10. The practice of recycling electronics often produces so many toxic byproducts that recyclers simply ship the electronic waste to other countries, taking advantage of less restrictive environmental regulations. This could mean that the recycled content inside our electronic devices might have taken multiple trips around the world, negating the energy and environmental benefits of recycling the materials in the first place.
Thus we can see how even recycling is an incomplete solution and sometimes may even unknowingly increase the problem. The only solution to manage the huge amount of waste generated every day is to reduce the generation. Reduce, reuse and recycle; as we famously call the familiar 3 arrows, have their priority in the order mentioned above. We must reduce our waste generation primarily. If generated we must reuse and then the last resort must be to recycle.
Recycling is harmful!