3.2 Recycling Turns Waste into a Resource

Recycling takes products that are no longer useful and turns them into source material to make new, useful products. Recycling of certain materials (such as metal and rubber) must be done in factories. Recycling of other materials, such as paper and glass, require less equipment and space and can be done in small workshops or at people’s homes.

Recycling is an important way to reduce waste but it requires support from government and industry, as well as commitment by communities and people. If there is no market for recycled products or if they are not safely recycled, recycling is not a solution. Recycling reduces waste by transforming it into new products and saves energy used in manufacturing. For instance, it takes two-thirds less energy to recycle paper than to make new paper, or to make steel from scrap metal rather than from raw ore. Making aluminium from scrap takes a tiny amount of the energy to make it from raw bauxite ore.


-           Reduces the amount of solid waste that pollutes our environment.

-           Reduces the amount of solid waste in need of disposal, thus saving space and money.

-           Reduces resource use by using the resources more than once.

-           Helps the local and national economy because fewer raw materials need to be imported.

-           Provides jobs.

Recycling is a tool for economic development as well as an environmental tool. Reuse, recycling and waste reduction offer direct development opportunities for communities. If collected with skills and care and upgraded with quality in mind, discarded materials are local resource that can contribute to local revenues, job creation, business expansion, and local economy growth.

Recycling-based economic development is directly related to increasing the society's wealth. This strategy links reuse and recycling with community development and has documented the job creation and value added benefits of reuse and recycling.

On jobs per ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfill and incineration. However, making new products from old ones offers the largest economic pay-off in the recycling loop. New recycling-based manufacturing enterprises employ even more people and give higher wages than companies sorting recyclables. Some recycling-based paper mills and plastic product manufacturers employ (on a per ton basis) 60 times more workers than landfills.

Product reuse is even more job-intensive than recycling. It is a knowledge based industry focused on accurate sorting and pricing and good industry management.

Value is added to discarded materials as a result of cleaning, sorting and baling. Manufacturing using locally collected discards adds even more value per end product. For instance, old newspapers are sold for 30 euros per ton, but new newspapers are sold for 600 euros per ton. Each recycling step a community takes locally means more jobs, more business expenditures on supplies and services and more money circulating in the local economy through spending and tax payments.

Recycling has a major impact on job creation in local/national economies.

Recycling helps businesses, other organizations and communities to avoid disposal costs associated with landfills and incinerators. More and more local communities – large and small – demonstrate that recycling and reuse programs can be cost–competitive with disposal options. This is true in particular if communities consider the full cost of solid waste disposal and account for the environment and other negative impact of waste generation.

In addition, recycling stimulates the development of green technologies. Recycling encourages the development of more environmentally friendly products. The vast supply of low–cost materials from local collection programs has spurred many businesses to develop cutting-edge technologies and products. Waste tires are used in many applications including rubberized asphalt for paving roads.