How Recycling Can Help Mitigate Climate Change
At first glance, recycling might not seem closely tied to global warming or climate change. However, recycling is one of the easiest, hands-on choices you can take to reduce your carbon footprint, preserve vital natural resources, and protect the health of humans, wildlife, and our planet.
REDUCING GREENHOUSE GASES
Recycling saves energy resulting in fewer fossil fuels burned and significantly fewer greenhouse gases emitted into our atmosphere. The extraction and transport of virgin materials from forests, oil reserves, and mines is an energy-intensive operation. Processing recycled materials requires dramatically less energy and produces far fewer greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling also has the benefit of sending less trash to landfills, which reduces the opportunity for decomposition and the release of methane. Methane gas is 25 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide and is a major factor impacting climate change. Additionally, recycling, especially paper materials, reduces the clear-cutting of forests in order to make new paper products. Trees capture and store large amounts of carbon dioxide (the most prevalent greenhouse gas), as well as convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.
Recycling reduces the strain on our natural resources, enables us to use resources more efficiently, and conserves materials for future generations. Nonrenewable resources (oil, metals, etc.) have a finite supply, and many renewable resources (wood, fresh water, etc.) are being exhausted faster than they can replenish. However, we continue to bury or burn more than two-thirds of our waste every day in the United States. By recycling materials, we can help to fill the constant demand for materials and prevent this depletion of our natural resources. In addition, recycling helps to protect natural resources locally by allowing communities to stretch the life of their current landfills and avoid using valuable land to build new landfills.
Recycling plays an integral part in helping to reduce air, water, and land pollution. Toxins entering our air and groundwater systems are greatly lessened because of the energy savings from resulting from recycling and the recycling of many household hazardous waste. Recycling also benefits our oceans and beaches by repurposing plastic products into new materials. Estimates are that as much as eight million tons of plastic pollutants end up in our oceans each year. That’s equivalent to a full garbage truck load of plastics per minute dumped off a pier.
Understanding how recycling impacts climate change is a step towards creating your action plan to boost your recycling participation at home and work. Take a few moments to review Gainesville’s current list of accepted and not accepted materials for recycling. Maximize your recycling efforts by finding out what recyclables are going into your trash and start recycling those materials from now on. Strive to eliminate contaminants from the materials you are setting out for recycling. When contaminants make their way into the recycling stream, it cost more to process materials, causes damage to expensive sorting equipment, and devalues the marketability of the recyclables.
What Is Gainesville Recycling?
Here’s a quick look at the percentage of recyclable materials collected curbside in the City of Gainesville for 2019. Please note that values are based on weight not volume (i.e., glass containers weigh a lot more than plastics bottles).
Mixed Paper includes: paperboard, newspapers, magazines, office paper, junk mail, paper bags and phone books.
What Is the Market Value of Recycled Materials?
Here’s a quick look at the estimated current market value of recycled materials for the Gainesville area. Please note the market value of recycled materials fluctuate significantly depending on the demand and quality of the materials.
Community Recycling Videos