Recycling and reusing materials that would otherwise be discarded is a key component of environmental sustainability. Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The three elements of sustainability—environmental stewardship, economic development and social responsibility—are interdependent, and recycling exemplifies all three.
The Benefits of Recycling
Recycling has numerous environmental and economic advantages. Recycling:
- Creates more jobs than the landfilling industry.
- Saves energy and reduces pollution by reducing the need to extract and transport virgin resources.
- Allows for reuse of materials and finite resources thereby conserving resources for future generations.
Recycling Can Enhance Colorado’s Economy
Despite its sizeable economic potential, Colorado has overlooked recycling as an area of economic growth.
- Collecting and processing recyclable materials creates at least five times more jobs than landfilling these materials. According to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, for every job created per ton of waste in the landfill and incineration sector, 10 jobs could be created processing recyclables. According to Gracestone, Inc., over 130 jobs are, and 296 jobs could be, created in the electronics reuse and recycle industry per 10,000 tons of e-scrap.
- The jobs created through recycling require a full spectrum of labor from low to high skilled positions.
- Colorado is not getting its fair share of these jobs since our recycling industry is underdeveloped.
- Recycling is cost effective when programs are run efficiently, whether by the public or private sector.
- Recycling is even more cost effective when life cycle cost analyses are considered.
- Recycling stimulates development of green technologies.
Recycling Protects the Environment
- Recycling conserves natural resources.
- Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
- Recycling extends the life of landfills, saving the public from the costs associated with siting new landfills and the risks associated with eventual landfill leakage.
- It is important to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Recycling helps us do that by saving energy.
- Recycling leaves habitat intact for wildlife by reducing our demands for fossil fuel extraction.