Have you ever considered what happens to your waste after you have disposed of it? Does it go to a landfill or do you think of recycling?
The answer is probably either ‘no’ or ‘yes, but not for very long’ and, while those responses are perfectly typical, they are part of the reason that we are running out of landfill areas to fill.
We tend to think of waste as an end result, a material that has run its course of usefulness and nothing more. But thinking this way is actually a real waste of the limited resources we have access to. It might be fast becoming a cliché, but there is no Planet B, so using what we have smartly is vital.
Though we might not be thinking about it, waste lasts for a long, long time in landfill. In fact, some types of waste last for so long that we can’t even be sure that it degrades at all. And yet, most of the waste that we throw away can be recycled in some way, or at least burned to produce energy.
Not only can most of the waste we throw away be recycled, the recycling process takes a fraction of the time it would take for the waste to biodegrade in landfill. Glass is the best example of this as in landfill it is probable that it will never degrade (the lowest estimates are 1 million years).
Recycling glass is a remarkably quick process, though, taking a mere 8 hours from arriving in the recycling facility to leaving as a new product. The longest recycling time is plastic which can take up to a couple of weeks.
Even this seems like nothing when compared to the 500 years it might take to degrade in landfill!
Furthermore, in some instances, recycled materials can make up a substantial amount of the new product. For example, recycled cardboard and paper can account for 70% of manufactured paper and cardboard.
Once you can see the difference in time and resources, there really is no contest between recycling and landfill. Recycling is faster, cheaper and a smarter use of our finite resources.
So next time you go to put something in landfill, just think – could I be recycling this? See the infographic below for more.