Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials. By recovering materials from old products we are removing or reducing the need to extract yet more raw materials from the earth. This is important because the vast majority of resources that we use in manufacturing products and providing services cannot be replaced. The use of these resources cannot go on indefinitely – we would run out.
Recycling means that we also avoid many of the additional environmental impacts associated with extracting the new resources, manufacturing and distributing the goods. Activities such as mining, quarrying and logging can be environmentally destructive, damaging the natural environment and local wildlife habitats. The processing and transportation activities also add to the environmental impact. Recycling often uses less energy and causes less pollution than using raw materials. For example, the manufacture of bags from recycled rather than virgin polythene reduces energy consumption by two-thirds, produces one-third of the sulphur dioxide and one-half of the nitrous oxide, uses only one-eighth of the water and reduces carbon dioxide generation.
Recycling is a positive step which we can take to help the environment. It encourages us to think about the waste we create and take responsibility for what happens to it. Ultimately this is the greatest advantage of recycling as raising awareness is the first step towards changing the way we deal with any problem.