Happy Global Recycling Day!  

Happy Global Recycling Day!  

Every year on March 18, we celebrate Global Recycling Day. It’s an important day to recognise the people and initiatives that drive sustainability and consider new horizons for the future of recycling. Though it’s common knowledge recycling isn’t a catch-all solution to our planet’s excess waste problem, recycling does promote a circular economy wherein raw materials such as paper, plastic, metal and glass avoid ending up in landfills across the globe.

According to experts, we’re only hitting a 13% recycling rate at the global level, which is far from the potential we could be reaching. Only through the continued effort of outreach and grassroots campaigning can the movement demand stronger recycling legislation to enact genuine changes.

How does recycling work? The circular journey of recyclable materials. 

People often ask “where do my recyclables go after I’ve separated them at home?” The reality is, as much as we sort our recyclables, these materials must be separated further and more methodically to ensure they are clean and safe enough for them to be reused. “Clean” here is a keyword because many people are unaware that dirty recyclables are often discarded due to strict protocols regarding hygiene. So, next time you get ready to take out your bin, make sure you’ve cleaned off any food or debris that may have been left over. Otherwise, those perfectly reusable items might end up in a landfill…

After your rubbish is collected, waste is taken to a central facility to be sorted, processed and eventually sent off. Depending on the facility, sorting is either done by machines, or by workers who visually inspect and sort the waste themselves. After this initial separation process, each raw material is washed and sent away for reprocessing into something new.

Paper is mainly transferred to papermills where tissue, toilet paper and newsprint can be made. Metal, like steel, is sent to mills where it is smelted and becomes anything from auto parts to tools to street signs. Aluminium cans are melted to be turned into new cans. And plastics can be transformed into many different items; from electronics to furniture and even clothing. The limitations of what we can produce when we recycle raw products are quite limitless and the benefits of doing so resonate across many industries, communities and the environment.

Other than to make new products out of old ones, why is it so important to recycle?  

Well, the short answer is that natural resources are finite. The planet only has so much to offer. Some resources are costly or in very short supply and are quickly disappearing. So, recycling paper can help save trees. Recycling plastics eliminates the need to create new plastics, which is a highly toxic and polluting process. Equally, recycling metals cuts down on excess mining and smelting, and so forth. 

When we don’t need to extract more resources from the planet, we make a powerful ecological impact. Additionally, recycling has proven to drastically reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions because of its low-impact processes, which could soon be a powerful contributor to net zero carbon neutrality.

Recycling is part of our daily lives. It doesn’t take much time or effort to recycle effectively. So, as we celebrate Global Recycling Day, we should reflect on our individual contributions to the movement and think about what more we can do to strive toward a greener, cleaner planet.



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