Recycling is a good process; it helps decrease waste, recoups energy, and is often helpful for the second hand market. A general conception is that a zero waste should focus on recycling more and more – which is only true in part. As a zero-waster, the goal should be to recycle less and less.
If you’re recycling more and more, that means you’re using non-durable or low quality or non eco friendly goods. Generating a lot of used items which need recycling, means that the overall approach isn’t working out. We need to reduce the items which get recycled – and replace them with ones that either last a longer lifetime or can be fully repurposed later on.
Recycling is like a business
We tend to forget that the recycled material must have somewhere to go. Most items don’t get recycled simply because there is no market for them. It is simply easier, or cost effective for most businesses to use virgin material instead. Our approach should therefore be to use more and more items that have a market AFTER getting recycled.
Recycle rates tell us how much of a material can be recycled safely and also find usage after the recycling process.
Glass, has a 100% recycle rate. Most of the glass that is recycled can be used again without any problems. As such, buying new products with glass in them means the product will create less waste overall after it’s discarded. Aluminium has a similar recycle rate. It is actually one of the most recyclable materials and is also relatively pricier, so businesses often prefer recycled aluminium to fresh one.
Paper has about a 65% recycle rate. Quite a bit of it is recyclable as compared to most materials. It costs about 50% to 78% less to make recycled paper as compared to making new paper from wood pulp.
Plastic is about 9% recycle rate.