Recycling as much non-renewable material as possible is important for the movement towards creating a much more sustainable future for our planet. As long as more metals and plastics are recovered for reuse, the need to mine from the ground or synthesise the latter in factories–and the environmental impact of these processes–can be greatly reduced.
Unfortunately, the true benefits that recycling metals can have on sustainability are seldom understood by most people. Recycling expert Rick LeBlanc revealed in an About Money article that recycling’s positive impact is actually much greater than is usually assumed:
With effective recycling, metals can be used over and over again, minimizing the need to mine and process virgin materials while decreasing energy and water requirements. Success in raising levels of recycling world-wide would benefit the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy while assisting in the creation of green jobs.
Some studies suggest that recycling metals are between two and 10 times more energy efficient than smelting the metals from virgin ores. At the same time, extraction alone currently accounts for seven per cent of the world’s energy consumption, with emissions contributing significantly to climate change.
With climate change becoming an ever more prevalent issue, every effort should be taken to curb factors that contribute to environmental decline. Given the immense disparity between the amounts of energy required to smelt ores and to recycle refined metals, recycling should be more strongly encouraged among the general population.
One effective way to do this is to highlight the financial rewards that come with trading scrap for cash. By incentivising the recycling of scrap metal, people would become more willing to participate in the drive to increase reuse rates.
In conjunction with a scrap metal incentive scheme, making recycling much more convenient can also encourage participation. For instance, setting up a scrap metal pick up service with a recycling company like Global Resources International Pty. Ltd. would eliminate the need to travel to a scrap yard, a recycling facility, or a similar processing location to deposit scrap, making it less troublesome for hesitant recyclers.
By using strategies such as these to encourage participation in scrap metals recycling, it may one day be possible to reuse most, if not all, of the metal currently in circulation, allowing us all to live in a future that is sustainable both for human development and for environmental preservation.
(Source: Recycling Rates of Metals Must Increase to Reach Sustainability, About Money)