The highly material intensive nature of the modern industry has led to huge resource consumption and compilation of large amount of industrial and municipal waste leading to depletion of natural system, erosion of earth’s resource base, global warming, rise of sea level, deterioration of environment, and increasing extinction rate of animal life, causing severe impairment to earth’s ability to support the human civilization in its current framework.
The dangers presented by the unchecked growth and resource consumption became manifest to the world in 1985 after the discovery of the ozone hole over Antarctica that informed the global community of the urgency of problem. As a consequence and in the response to the challenge presented to humanity’s future by its own march towards development, leaders of world met in June, 1992 in Rio De-Janeiro in the first earth summit where against the current pattern of development, sustainable development was identified as the required path for the world to follow.
One of the important aspects of sustainable development has been recycling of products and waste. Benefits of recycling for society Recycling as a process holds important place in the course of sustainable development for any society. As an activity, its relevance extends beyond a goodwill action to one that holds crucial environmental, economic and social significance for the society and the country (Pellow, Schnaiberg, Winberg, 2000).
Recycling helps to constitutes a perfect model of social and urban development where resource consumption is optimized and needs for new material contained while production is maintained at the same levels, thereby driving up the profits and quality of life in the urban communities. The urban community in the post industrial phase has been swamped by the problem of municipal waste and garbage, which has taken menacing proportion, both from the point of view of making valuable urban landscape as redundant as well as causing significant environment damage.
In the initial phase of recycling that started in 1960s, it was an avenue for employment for the marginalized section and profit making opportunity to many private entrepreneurs. The hauling, collection and dumping of garbage was a big problem for municipalities of many cities and was considered an unnecessary drain on their already constrained financial resources, causing deterioration in quality of city life.
As the private entrepreneurs saw opportunity in the business of waste management and trash disposal they developed professional expertise in gaining maximum value out of the waste that was an important step in emergence of recycling (Pellow, Schnaiberg, Winberg, 2000). In the forthcoming years it was realized that recycling was also an important tool with tremendous potential to reduce the human pressure on environment, land and natural resources that were strained due to continued cycles of consumptions and waste production over years (Young, 1995).
It was a vital break from its image of a ‘just a do good activity’ to one that was fundamental to driving economy and society on a new path. Environmental benefits of recycling Various studies in industry and academic circles have reported that recycling is among the most effective techniques to reduce the threat of greenhouse gases, contain global warming and alleviate the dangers of extreme climatic change that the world is facing (Benefits of Recycling, 2005).
These studies point out that as reusable material is made available through recycling prevents the environmental damage that the fresh extraction of these materials would have caused. Further it also saves the amount of energy, water and other raw materials that are considerably higher in manufacturing of virgin products than recycling. The Department
In addition, research has also shown the usefulness of recycling for solid and municipal waste and water in optimizing the resource use without compromising with the requirements of the society. The major environmental benefits of recycling are in the area of 1. Green house gases. Recycling helps to contain the extraction of resources and limit the release the green-house gases thereby helping to reduce global warming. The gases whose emission is commonly controlled and mitigated by recycling processes are (a). Carbon Dioxide; (b) Methane; (c) Nitrous Oxide and (d) Oxides of sulphur
Most of the households in world use considerable amount of products that are easily recyclable, such as paper and cardboard. Their recycling prevents thermo mechanical pumping of wood, a process that releases gases like carbon-di-oxide and methane in the atmosphere leading to greenhouse gases concentration. Similarly useful results come from recycling of glass, which is third in weight proportion among all recyclable materials. Manufacturing of fresh glass requires treatment with soda wash and lime, that contribute significantly to the concentration of greenhouse gases.
Recycling of aluminum also saves cutting down in emission of many environmentally harmful gases and products that cause global warming. 2. Energy savings: Energy consumption has been recognized as environment conservation, as it’s the disproportionately greater flow of energy through natural systems that is causing problems of greenhouse gases and global warming. Recycling helps to greatly improve energy efficiency by reducing the energy demands otherwise required for manufacturing and processing of virgin materials.
As most of the heat required for creation of products such as paper, cardboards, and packaging materials is obtained through burning bio-mass, recycling become significant in both the protection of the bio-mass, increasing earth’s capacity to contain carbon dioxide as well helping to reduce the production of carbon-dioxide and methane. Water savings: Decreasing fresh water resources have become a cause of global concern. The scarcity of drinking is already prominent many Asian and African countries, and its estimated that it would effect even the developed European, American and Pacific countries in the eventual run.
Among the sectors consuming fresh water, industrial processes emerge as the primary users as well as pollutants of the rivers, lakes and other fresh water resources. Recycling of substances, especially plastic materials and products, results in saving of enormous quantities of fresh water that is otherwise wasted in first batch production. Industrial benefits Recently attempts have been directed towards improvement in recycling process through introduction of recycling parks and recycling industrial zones, that are based on generic concepts of reuse and recycle etched in the industrial ecology framework (Pellow, Schnaiberg, Winberg, 2000).
A recycling industrial park or zone contains a host of facilities and technical features such as solar power inputs, waste reduction technologies, refinery, greenhouse gases monitoring plant, and central heating plan. All of these facilities are integrated in a system design that helps them to share and transfer energy and waste, thereby minimizing the requirement and production of them. Further, the wastes produced in one process is used as input material for another processes (ibid).
Paper industry and aluminum industry have been among the foremost users of recyclable products, introducing structural changes in their operation and functional modes to help them use the huge amount of recyclable material that was available through just one decade of emphasis on recycling (Young, 1995). The increasing prices of aluminum raw materials and wood also made recycling a very prospective and cost cutting option for these industries. As a result, in New York alone, whereas the annual cost of disposing newspaper was $ 6 million every year until 1992, recycling made it a profitable business generating over $ 30 million from 1994.
Business and industries are also more focused on recycling after a general social consciousness towards environment that has increased the demand of recyclable products. Hazardous and municipal waste management United states produces enormous volumes of solid waste, a great part of which is hazardous and presents serious risks to health of people if left unattended. The problem of managing hazardous waste became a challenge for government and civic administration in 1970s as it required landfills and incineration at wide scale, thereby creating the dangers of severe land pollution and air pollution (Needleman, 1994).
In response the EPA instituted policies that started to govern unchecked disposal of hazardous wastes in landfills and encouraged companies towards using a significant part of the recyclable material, causing a significant reduction in amount of waste being disposed (Needleman, 1994). It was immediately recognized in the civic administrative circles that by far, recycling was the cheapest and most convenient method of waste management, as well as promising avenue to boost economic development.
Consequently various city administration and states have taken steps towards financing measures, tax assistance and technical help to promote recycling on a wider platform (Young, 1995). Various facts related to benefits of Recycling Various informative facts related to benefits of recycling are (Benefits of Recycling, 2007) 1. One ton of paper made from recyclable material helps to save 17 trees, 7 gallon of water, approximately 460 gallon of oil, 590 pounds of air pollution, 3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4 kilowatt hours of energy.
Effectually it results in reduction of air pollution by 74 percent, water pollution by 35 percent and energy consumption by 64 percent. 2. Recycling of aluminum helps to save every year around 19 million barrel of oil. For a comparative analysis, this is equivalent to energy supplied to about 18 million household every year. 3. Recycling one glass bottle saves energy that is sufficient to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours. 4. Recycling one ton of plastic helps to save energy that is equivalent to 1100-1200 gallons of gasoline. 5. Use of recycled aluminum to make cars decreases the comparative air pollution by a margin of 95 %.
6. More than 41,000 tress could be saved every day in US alone if all the newspapers published in a day are recycled. 7. Recycled motor oil helps to reduce dependency on the imported oil. 8. Recycling industry helps create a number of jobs, helping in growth of economy in generating income as well as cutting costs. According to the Office of Federal Environmental Executive, Recycling and remanufacturing industries have helped to create more than one million jobs in the economy and their aggregate revenues have been over a staggering $ 100 billion (EPA, 2006).
Further, the industry has a rich job profile offering employment to part time and low level workers to top management personnel and scientists. Recycling industry is also instigating discovery and invention of new research and development techniques to utilize greater number of materials as recyclable products, along with keeping the process of recycling cost incentive, so that it is able to compete with the mainstream industrial production processes on the real-time scale of quality, cost and profits.
Conclusion As the recycling industry is maturing and creating its own niche, it has become evident that the industry holds enormous potential in restructuring the entire economic, environmental social paradigm. On the one hand the recycling industry helps to save precious and limited natural resources, while bringing down the cost of manufacturing, and on the other it creates hundreds of thousand of jobs as a full fledged industry in itself.
By reducing the pollution of land, and helping to cud down greenhouse gases, recycling also plays a foremost part in containing the threats of global environment and securing the future of humanity on the path of consistent development and progress. Reference Pellow, D. N, Schnaiberg ,A. Weinberg , A. S 2000. Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Community Development. Princeton University Press. : Princeton, NJ. Young, J. E. 1995. The Sudden New Strength of Recycling. World Watch. Volume: 8. Issue: 4. Benefits of Recycling. 2005. Department of Environment and Conservation.
Accessed online on 16. 05. 2007. http://www. environment. nsw. gov. au/resources/2005140_gov_benefitrecysum. pdf Benefits of Recycling. Hamilton County Environment Services. Accessed online on 16. 05. 2007. http://www. hcdoes. org/sw/benefits_of_recycling. htm Economic benefits of Recycling. 2006. Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed online on 16. 05. 2007 http://www. epa. gov/jtr/econ/index. htm Needleman, B. 1994. Hazardous Waste Recycling under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act: Problems and Potential Solutions. : Environmental Law. Volume: 24. Issue: 3. Page Number: 971-1044