How Environmentally Friendly Recycling Is Environmental Sciences Essay

Recycling has always been seen as being Green. The average person does not realize there is a cost to recycling. Determine the cost (economics, environmental, and social) to recycling various materials, plastics, metals, paper, glass, etc.


Recycling does not only have economic casts but similarly important environmental and social costs. Each product should be reused as many times as possible while reduction in consumption would take place. It is necessary to get rid of our habit of using disposable products. Instead, the society should aim for lower waste production.


The purpose of this research paper is to discuss how environmentally friendly recycling really is and the social, environmental and economic costs involved during the process of recycling. By thoroughly studying academic papers available to the public, articles, books, and gone through studies on the internet all listed in the bibliography, the recycling process is discussed in detail throughout the essay to reach a conclusion which supports the thesis: “Recycling has economic, environmental, and social costs. The practice should be re-using as many items as possible and reducing consumption. We have to stop the habit of using disposable products; our aim should rather be reducing the amount of waste created.”

In the report a brief description and the importance of recycling is made. Recycling is the process of treating waste material that is generally considered as trashed so it can be used again. Once recycled, trash can be used as new products that can be resold and/or reused.

Later on, the discussion is carried about environmental benefits of recycling. Pollution is reduced with recycling, natural resources can be conserved and deforestation can be prevented.

Among the most common materials being recycled are: aggregates, concrete, batteries, biodegradable waste, electronics, ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals, glass, paper, plastic, tires and oil. A detailed explanation is provided on the recyclable material. The list can definitely be expanded.

It is obvious recycling costs money therefore in the final section of the paper the expenses of recycling are explored. The costs are: economic, environmental and social.

To conclude the study it can be stated that; although recycling involves many environmental benefits, people as a whole have to help to save nature, our planet and its resources. We have to remember to concentrate on reducing our consumption rather than focusing mostly on recycling. In other words, to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be recycled it should be encouraged to reuse materials that can be reused rather than throwing them away. This way the pollution produced by recycling can also be reduced.


According to the Longman Advanced American Dictionary recycling is ” the process of treating things so that they can be used again”. Because in the definition waste material usually considered as trash is referred to as “things”; recycling is the action of collecting materials that are thrown away as trash to process the used materials and turn them into new products which can in return be resold and/or reused.

From the beginning of history of mankind, we have been producing waste and polluting the planet by dumping the trash into nature. When industrialization started developing the waste turned into toxic waste which created massive pollution, harming the planet even more.

When thinking of recycling the majority of people think of house hold waste which is a result of daily consumption of industrial products such as plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, paper, etc. Industrial waste is forgotten. The manufacturing of industrial products also creates huge quantities of waste that pollutes the environment. So when regarding recycling we must consider the benefits and costs of recycling at the production level.

Obviously both production and consumption of recycling brings us many benefits concerning the environment. It is not only important for environmental issues like helping to reduce polution but we also must keep in mind the importance of efficient use of natural resources and energy which is quickly becoming scarce.


Pollution reduction

Waste management can significantly reduce the pollution by applying the motto reduce, reuse and recycle. However, it is also up to people to change their mentally of no reusing and recycling

By redaction of needs for new material that can be subsidized from recycled or reused material less of direct manufacturing is needed. Moreover, if people would consume less we would help reduce pollution that occurs as a result of manufacturing of new products. All of the manufacturing processes use energy that creates pollution either from machining or. There is additional risk of creating more pollution in many of fabrication processes where hazardous materials are used as well.

The continuous daily habit of creating and buying more of one time use products instead of recycling or reusing creates more waste and more pollution. Any kind of trash dumped on the landfills contains poisonous gasses that get in the air, water and soul resources

Conservation of resources

It is well known fact, that mankind is developing at rapid rate and part of it is using more natural resources. However, many of these resources are non-renewable like coal, natural or gas which are not found in big quantities in long run term. They are not able to recreate or renew in short amount of time as we would need them to do so but instead it takes thousands of year. A way of conserving natural recourses must be found to achieve sustainable development and so granted a good life for future generations. Formation of new products needs a lot of energy in terms of heat, electric power or fuel for transportation. Recycling process can avoid using these natural resources in some extend.

In case when natural resources are being used as the base materials for production of new products, by using the already recycled or reused material we lower the consumption of the natural resource. Even when small portion of products are recycled it can save a lot of natural resources and cost connected to their manufacturing. For example, in the USA more than 70% of iron is being recycled what turns to save more than 50 million metric tons iron ore in one year.

Conservation of energy

The use of energy works on the same principles like conservation of resources. Less energy is needed when less manufacturing is needed. Moreover, in some cases like aluminum up to 95% of eclectic power can be saved in production process when it is recycled. Of course, some recycling processes would use much more energy than the actual production of product but because of that this kind of recycling is not being used on big scale. The example can be different kinds of electrical batteries. To separate each kind and adjust the recycling process accordingly would be very energy inefficient and therefore it is not happening.

Recyclable products

There are many products that can be recycled these days and many are but because of the complexity of the waste it is not an easy task. Below are some examples of products that are recycled relatively easy.


Paper us number one material that is thrown away as trash. Approximately 33 per cent of garbage is paper. On the other hand, it is the one of the most recycled product from non industrial production since it is relatively easy to turn waste paper in to a new paper product. Paper waste that is going to be recycled is called scrap paper similar like scrap metal and it does not matter what kind of paper it is. Almost any kind and color of paper can be recycled. Papers that have wax, paste, or papers that are coated with plastic or aluminum foil are usually not recycled because the process is too expensive. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that for formation and whitening of the paper in recycling process dangerous chemicals to the environment are being used.


Society uses plastic more often from day to day. It is made out of oil with different materials added to created soft or hard plastic with different properties. The big problem rise when it comes to recycling it since not all kinds of plastic are recyclable. Only very few are and even if it can be recycled it cannot be recycled into the original characteristics. Generally, lower forms and qualities of plastic are being created when being recycled.


Glass is used to package many foods like juices, baby food but mainly in windows glass production because of its strength and see thru property. Because of it various use in everyday file like plastic it makes up about six percent of trash by weight, two percent by volume. It is relatively easy to recycle glass since Recycling old glass uses 40% less energy than manufacturing it from new. The problem rises up from different kind of glass products which have different glass properties. Each kind has its own recycling procedure and therefore only small amounts of it are turned into new products. The glass is in most cases not recycled but reused for example like bottles what is even more economical and environmental friendly.

Ferrous material

Steel is the most recycled metal. We recycle huge amounts of steel from cars, appliances, old buildings, and bridges. Today, all steel products are made with some recycled steel. It is mainly because it takes about 60 percent less energy to make steel from recycled materials than it does from iron ore. That’s why today’s steel makers always use some steel scrap to make new steel products.

Non-ferrous material

Among the nonferrous metals, aluminum is the most widely recycled material. It requires huge amounts of electric power in its production and purification. Approximately, recycling aluminum can save 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum from bauxite ore


Electronics is used every day of our life and no one can imagine life without. This case creates big problems when it comes to the end of the life time of the products. According to the greenpeace organization approximately 20 to 50 million tons of electronics waste or e waste is created every year. Each product is complex and contains many different elements. Before any recycling process starts, all products must be disassembled and materials must be separated. Some of them are lead, cadmium, or other toxic material. These materials are harmful to the environment but can be easily recycled and reused in many new products. The materials that can’t be recycle ends up in landfills but in much smaller quantities than the product was originally made out of.


Batteries in waste management represent a lot of problems since they contain mercury and cadmium that can be potentially dangerous to the environment. Moreover, there is too many kinds of batteries on market therefore it is hard to recycle them. Only the auto lead-acid based batteries are recycled while the process is simple and environmental friendly.

Aggregates and concrete

Used aggregates or concrete can be easily reused or recycled in production of new concrete by replacing used rocks. Special crushed machine is being used to transform bigger concrete blocks into smaller sized parts. Thus recycling or better said reusing process does not require damaging of the nature by digging up new rock and deforestation.


Oil can be simply reused after cleaning in a variety of ways. Most is processed for use in asphalt plants, industrial and utility boilers, steel mills and other facilities. Some is re-refined for use as a new generation of motor oil or as fuel oils. The rest is used in specially designed space heaters in automotive bays and municipal garages. The oil helps these types of facilities reduce their heating costs. This practice, however, is not recommended for home use.

Biodegradable waste

Biodegradable waste or also called organic waste consist waste from kitchen, garden and organic green waste. This kind of waste has high nutrition form and can be easily composted in to fertile topsoil. The process does not have to be done by collection programs on large scale but simply at household level on small scale.


Economical costs

There are many direct and indirect costs involved in recycling waste management. The direct costs are collaborated in collection, separation and the recycling process itself. These economical costs are high since whole recycling infrastructure must be build for the recycling process to work. On the other hand indirect costs are often not considered. Without recycling we would produce more waste what would need more landfills since they are limited on space and the amount of trash they can hold. Moreover, it is very expensive to run them since there require a lot of regulations regarding the maintenance and operation, In a long run turn the cost of landfills will be only higher since more of the usable land will be taken away.

From future perspective, it might be economical more feasible to recycle when there will be a shortage of natural resources. The resources would be more expensive and therefore the cost of recycling might be lower than the costs of new manufacturing production. Also new more efficient technologies must be considered in future developments.

Environmental costs

There is a big discussion if recycling of some products is even environmentally beneficial. The recycling process requires a lot of energy since the waste products must be collected; pollution is created from transpiration and separation. Moreover, the recycling process, turning old material into new, uses a lot of energy as well.

Some people recycle paper since they want to overcome deforestation but in fact trees are renewable source of energy. In fact, many other materials In fact, of the materials we recycle like paper, glass, steel, and plastic are in no danger of running out in the foreseeable future. Glass is made out of sand which it the most abundant element on the earth. Similarly, aluminum and steel that is made out of iron ore contributes by 13% to the Earth’s crust.

In contrast to this argument, if at least the same amount of energy is needed to recycle than to produce new items it is illogical no to recycle. Electrical energy contributes to pollutions unless it comes from renewable energy like sun wind or water. Therefore, if we need more energy to produce new product than to recycle even if the process is expensive it is the correct environmental way to preside.

Social Costs

Recycling is mainly popular in developed countries where people separate plastic, cans, plastic and sometimes biodegradable waste. It is done in believe of reduction of the use of raw material and pollution. Moreover, lower amounts of garbage go to landfills this way where they could danger air, water and soil resources by releasing dangerous elements.

Those were the positive believes of recycling what people have. However, more often people start to ask question if recycling is beneficial form the economical point of view, is it worth to save energy over new material production. Also why some different kinds of materials are recyclable at other parts of the world? It is impossible for people to recycle products them self and because of that they depend on the recycling process that is provided in their area. This way sometimes the costs might add up to be higher than to produce new product from raw material.

In some sense, recycling is smart and creative way for human to deal with produced trash. The social question involved in recycling is: whether the cost of energy used in collecting and transporting the recyclables is less than the cost of energy used in the production of new materials where as the jobs provided by the recycling industry compensate the job losses due to the decrease in the production of new materials.


Throughout this report benefits and costs connected to recycling of different materials had been addressed. Recycling had been defined as a reprocessing of old material into new one while smaller amounts of raw material and energy are being consumed. Energy and pollution saved from recycling can help humanity in development of sustainable environment for future generations. One has to relieve that we start to use too much of natural resources and obese nature.

Furthermore, as a population is dramatically growing, the dependence on new technologies and the change of the mentality about recycling will have to change. Otherwise, there will be increase in green house gases, contamination of seas and underground water and increase in air pollution. Many techniques of human life will have to change but recycling will be playing part major roll to avoid above mentioned problems. For this purpose, large campaign and public programs already exist to inform the people about the ways how to save nature. Recycling is only part of these programs since a lot of importance goes to reusing and reducing of material as a preventing process of any waste creation from the start.


Reusing is a process in which product lifetime is being expended, ideally to the maximum. It can be done by: