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The importance of recycling

The importance of recycling

Blog

Posted 06.02.2020

By Clearabee

Recycling is something that is really important and thankfully is being talked about a lot more. It has a direct effect on the future of our planet and is something that we need to be taking more seriously. At Clearabee, our aim is to divert more than 95% of the waste that we collect from landfill. We make sure that anything that can be is recycled where possible and this article will explain the importance of recycling. 

What is the importance of recycling?

lightbulb with a recycling symbol

Earth overshoot day

Earth overshoot day marks the date in each year in which humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds the amount that the Earth can regenerate in that year. Each year, Earth Overshoot Day is getting earlier. Last year it was July 29th and in 2018 it was August 1st. It is estimated to be earlier still this year, around July 27th. This is happening because we are still using up too many natural resources too fast.

Earth Overshoot Day is determined by The Global Footprint Network. To get the date, they calculate the number of days of the current year in which the Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is then computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources that Earth is able to generate in that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year) and then multiplying by the number of days in the year. (Source: Earth Overshoot Day)

Earth Overshoot Day and the fact that it is getting earlier each year, really shows the importance of recycling.

The effect of using up our natural resources

This deficit is maintained by the accumulation of waste and by producing more carbon monoxide than necessary. The extra carbon monoxide that is being produced is contributing towards climate change. This is therefore having a negative impact upon our environment. Current estimates say we've got enough natural gas on this planet to last us until around 2060. This is based on the rate in which we are currently using it up. Humanity is currently using natural resources 1.7 times faster than our planet’s ecosystems can regenerate. What will we do when that has all been used up? Our planet is fast running out of resources and we need to put a stop to it. At Clearabee we are continuously working hard to offset our CO2 emissions.

“The fact that has shocked me the most is the Overshoot Day: By July 29th, we used up all the regenerative resources of 2019. From July 30 we started to consume more resources than the planet can regenerate in a year. It's very serious. It's a global emergency.” Pope Francis. 

The cost of this so-called ‘ecological overspend’ includes biodiversity loss, soil erosion, fresh water scarcity, deforestation and the build-up of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Unfortunately, the demand for fresh water looks like it may never decrease. With the earth’s population rapidly increasing at a rate of around 1.08% each year and with agriculture using 70% of the fresh water, it’s an essential resource that we can’t afford to waste.

How can we stop using up natural resources?

plastic floating in the sea

Recycling helps to reduce the pollution caused by waste. It also reduces the need for raw materials, so that the rainforests and our natural resources can be preserved. Recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials. All of which create substantial air pollution and water pollution. As recycling saves energy, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions - this then helps us in the long run.

Our forests take hundreds and thousands of years to grow. We can try to replace them as best we can by planting new forests. However, we will never be able to plant new trees fast enough. This is why recycling paper and cardboard is so important. It is a great way to conserve energy. Less energy is used to recycle the paper/card than the amount used when the paper/card is first produced. Recycling paper saves water as well as trees and recycling one ton of plastic saves approximately 685 gallons of oil.

When you recycle metal, it means that there is less need for mining. Mining is risky, expensive and damaging towards the environment. The more we recycle, the more of our natural resources we are saving. This therefore means that the planet can live for longer. Recycling in the UK is currently estimated to save 18 million tonnes of CO2 a year; this is the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road. We need to make sure that we are producing less than that figure for to make the biggest difference possible.

What difference does recycling make?

Recycling reduces the need to grow, harvest or extract new raw materials from the Earth. It is obviously the much better option if you care for the environment as we do at Clearabee. When you recycle, there is less disruption and damage being done to the Earth’s ecosystems. This includes both flora and fauna; it avoids rivers having to be diverted and it leads to less pollution of our water, air and soil.

It is inevitable that most people have seen the impact that plastic is having on our rivers and seas. 8 million tonnes of plastic is unfortunately dumped into the sea. The plastic then has devastating effects on the creatures who live within it. It’s not just the sea creatures that this has an effect on; microplastics can be eaten by animals such as plankton. Once the plankton have ingested plastic, it then passes the problem back up the food chain to us. If the thought of animals ingesting plastic doesn’t make you want to recycle, then the thought of us humans ingesting it certainly will. This really shows the importance of recycling. Plastic is a big problem and we should all be finding ways to reduce our waste which we can incorporate into our daily lives. 

Remembering the importance of recycling, we will even divert food waste from landfill. Any food and organic waste will go to Anaerobic Digestion Facilities. Here, the waste is broken down into biogas which is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. This biogas is then used to generate electricity and heat.

How can you do your bit for the environment and the planet? By understanding the importance of recycling and ensuring that you recycle as much as possible. We have two blog posts detailing items that you may not have known could be recycled, these can be found here and here.