Business owners and homeowners alike are often encouraged to recycle as much of their waste as possible, especially items like plastic and metal. If you find recycling a hassle, you might note some reasons why this is so important and how that recycled material is often used after you drop it off at a recycling centre.
It's easy to think that items you toss in a landfill will simply degrade and break down over time, but plastic rarely degrades on its own. The material is meant to be tough and durable and to stay intact indefinitely, even when exposed to the elements. Plastic often needs to be burned or otherwise treated in order to destroy it, and this means creating fumes and emissions.
While many types of metal can eventually rust and corrode and break down, this can often take years, and metal waste sits in a landfill and takes up space during this time. The oxidation and rusting of metal can also mean allowing that harmful corrosion to seep into the ground, which is very dangerous for the environment.
How it's used
You may not think recycled metal and plastic are very useful simply because you don't see it being advertised as being part of certain products you buy, but many products are made with at least some recycled metal or plastic. This includes containers like tin and aluminium cans, plastic wrap, bottles, caps, film put over paper and cardboard that is used for packaging. Cars, furniture, appliances, lamps, kitchen containers, gliders and outdoor accessories, railings, splashbacks and other everyday items are also often made with some recycled metal. This metal can also be used to create electronic boards and switches and for creating artwork and sculptures.
You may not realize the environmental impact of recycling materials versus harvesting and then preparing materials for use. Not only does recycling reduce the size of landfills, but it reduces air pollution, water pollution and water usage that all result from making new metal and plastic products. There is also the harm done to the environment by blasting in order to get to iron ore, used to make steel. Local recycling centres may also provide nearby businesses with their needed metal and plastic products, so those companies don't need to have them trucked in from production facilities across the state; this reduces the fumes and emissions created by delivery trucks. Because of this environmental impact, it's good to consider recycling all the products you can, at home and at your business.