The Importance of Recycling

The Importance of Recycling

20 Mar 2020

The essence and importance of recycling can sometimes be lost in translation. With so many different regional systems, we remind you of the rationale behind recycling and some of the key guiding principles when choosing what goes where.

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Why recycling matters?

The amount of waste being recycled in regions such as the US and Europe has been steadily increasing. In the US, for example, the amount of municipal waste that gets recycled has more than trebled in the last 40 years.

Go us! But, we’re still not there yet. Worldwide, 91% of plastic isn’t recycled, much of it ending up in the oceans and us! It’s important to remind ourselves from time-to-time just how beneficial the good deed, that a lot of us now perform automatically, is for the environment and give ourselves a pat on the back.

Plastic Pollution on the Beach

One way of understanding why recycling is such a crucial aspect of creating a more sustainable world is by examining the outcome when something isn’t recycled. Everything we use, be it an aluminium can, a plastic bottle, an iPhone or a car, all took a lot of energy and resources to produce.

The Midas touch

Like King Midas with his golden touch, over the last century we’ve become extremely proficient at turning brown, stinky goo aka crude oil, or natural gas, into the useful material that is plastic. But, like with poor King Midas, it’s become a bit of an issue. Just the extraction of the raw materials, neither of which are renewable, puts a huge burden on the planet in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

The high environmental costs of plastic production

After the gas or the crude is extracted it has to be transported, a risky proposition in the best of circumstances, and then be refined to make ethylene – a process requiring vast amounts of energy.

Then the ethylene has to be combined with other chemicals and solvents to transform it into usable raw plastic (usually pellets or flakes) that then has to be transported to another facility that transforms it into a bottle. So, as we can see, the resulting bottle equates to a lot of expended energy and resources. Throwing it away into a landfill after a single use seems like the very definition of insanity. It makes so much more environmental (and economic) sense to recycle instead.

Carbon Emissions

Metal recycling

The story is very similar with metals. It takes an incredible amount of energy to extract metal ore from the Earth. Mining also scars the land and can ruin water and ecosystems, not to mention the dangers. The good news is that when it comes to metals, we are already on the right track. Today, about 75 percent of all aluminium produced in history, nearly a billion tons, is still in use. Not only is it infinitely recyclable, it takes up to 95 percent less energy to recycle than to produce new aluminium.

A closer look at what the steel industry has been doing for 150 years

The steel industry, for example, has also been actively recycling for more than 150 years. Not out of any sense of environmental stewardship, but because it makes economic sense. It simply costs less money to recycle steel than to mine ore and process it into new steel.

Metals can be recycled indefinitely because they lose fewer of their inherent physical properties during the recycling process. Making a product from reprocessed scrap drastically reduces the energy and material requirements when compared with refinement from raw ore.

The unholy trinity of landfills, leaching, and methane

In addition to the heartbreaking waste that occurs when something is tossed into a landfill instead of being properly recycled, landfills themselves are another major environmental hazard. Chemical leachate, or the contaminated water that drains from a landfill, pollutes the surrounding ecosystems, ending up in rivers, oceans, animals, and in humans too, something that Midas could relate to.

Landfill Contaminating Water

Landfills also emit gases such as CO2 and methane. Out of the two, methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas, with each molecule having twenty-five times the effect of a molecule of carbon dioxide. Sometimes it is captured and used productively, but mostly it is just flared, or worse, released into the air.

Successful recycling - how to take action?

Recycling can sometimes feel like a bit tough, especially because the rules and facilities can vary depending on where you live. Ever had that moment of uncertainty when you're not sure if something should go in the recycling bin or the trash? We get it. That's why we want to break down the challenges of recycling and share some practical tips to help you navigate the recycling process more smoothly.

So, how do we go about avoiding all the terrible things you just read?

Sort your recyclables

Sort! The most important of all. The wrong item in the wrong bin can contaminate a whole load of perfectly good recycling, meaning that, despite your best intentions, the whole load will end up in landfill. To prevent this, ensure you're placing items in the correct bins and following your local recycling guidelines.

Sorting Recyclables

Recycle with confidence

It's crucial to be certain about what can be recycled. Only toss stuff into the recycling bin if you're totally sure it belongs there. If you're not so sure, it's better to go with what you know and put it in the regular trash. Why? Because when you recycle the wrong things, it can mess up the whole recycling process. So, if you ever find yourself thinking, 'Hmm, is this recyclable or not?' – just remember, it's okay to 'throw it out' in the trash if you're not sure. While recycling is essential for reducing waste and conserving resources, it's equally important to do it right.

So, when in doubt, make sure to recycle with confidence to help protect the environment and check out our list of items you didn't know you could recycle to expand your recycling knowledge.

Support sustainable products

Buy products made from renewable materials that can be reused multiple times. Take, for example, our circular phone case – it's made from a blend of biomaterials including hemp, flax, cellulose and PLA combined with biodegradable PBAT, so it's both eco-friendly and can be reused multiple times. When you go for these kinds of products, you are helping to reduce waste and conserve resources. It feels good to know you're making a smart choice for the environment.

Vanilla White Compostable Circular Phone Case
Support Products such as Circular Phone Cases Made from Renewable Materials

Rinse before recycling

Always remember to rinse your recyclables before tossing them in the bin. This simple step helps you avoid contamination, stop your bin from smelling, and deters pests. Clean items are more likely to be accepted at recycling facilities.

Spread the word about recycling

Don't keep your recycling efforts a secret! Tell your friends, family, and neighbors that you recycle. When you're proud of what you're doing, it encourages others to get on board too. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. When people see you recycling and taking care of the environment, it sets a great example. They're more likely to start recycling themselves because they see how much good it can do.

Also, think about joining or starting a group in your town that cares about recycling. Maybe you can help clean up the neighborhood or teach others about all the benefits of recycling. When you work together, you can do even more good.

We're curious about your best tips! Please share them on our Instagram or email In the meantime, explore our insightful tips for better recycling at home and start making a positive impact on the environment. Enhance your recycling  and join us in creating a greener world.

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