Many materials can be recycled in whole or in part. In Australia, the most common recyclables are as follows:
- Aluminium: Australians recycle more than 2 billion aluminium cans annually, accounting for 67.4% of cans produced.
- Glass: Glass is 100% recyclable. In fact, glass can go through approximately a million recycling processes before quality is affected. About 25% of new glass bottles and jars in Australia come from recycled glass.
- Organics: About 20% of waste sent to Australian landfills consists of organics like food. When these organics rot in a landfill, they produce methane gas, which contributes to global warming. Mulching and composting improve gardens and counteract the dangers of methane gas.
- Paper and Cardboard: Australians use millions of tonnes of paper and cardboard each year. In 2006, approximately 2.5 million tonnes of the 5.5 tonnes used were recycled.
- Plastic: Australia uses approximately 376,000 tonnes of plastic packaging. In 2010, 288,194 tonnes of plastic were recycled.
- Steel: Every week Australians recycle 17.5 million steel cans. That's enough steel to build 900 new cars, but it only represents 30.3% of steel cans used.
Effects of Recycling
Recycling represents a vital effort to protect residents, wildlife and natural ecosystems. Recycling's effects include the following:
- Greenhouse Gas Reduction: Greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide develop as waste breaks down in landfills. These dangerous gaseous substances contribute to global warming. These are the same gases caused by fuel burned by vehicles. Every 10 tonnes of recycled material reduces greenhouse gases by the same amount as taking 4 cars off the road permanently.
- Resource Conservation: Creating new materials consumes high levels of coal, oil, trees, electricity, water and other resources. Recycling drastically reduces the resources needed. For example, recycling one tonne of paper or cardboard saves 13 trees and 2.5 barrels of oil. Similarly, making aluminium from recycled material rather than virgin material conserves up to 95% of the required energy.
- Wildlife Protection: Every year, high levels of waste end up invading natural habitats. About 6 million tonnes of rubbish end up in the oceans. This causes the death of more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals every year.
Efforts made by a single business or a single household can drastically affect the recycling's success in this country. And that's not an exaggeration. One homeowner who sends his or her daily newspaper to the landfill instead of recycling it causes 350 kilograms of carbon dioxide each year. Imagine the effect your dedicated recycling efforts could have.
To find out how you can make your household, business or industrial site more environmentally friendly, talk to your waste disposal specialist.