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The Benefits of Recycling
One of the main benefits of recycling comes from reducing the amount of new material required. In theory, recycling allows a material to be continually reused for the same purpose, and in many cases this theory holds true, most notably in the recycling of metals and glass.
Since less raw material is required, recycling creates further benefits for materials where cost of the initial extraction or production is high—either economically, socially or environmentally. The recycling of aluminium, for example, saves 95% of the CO2 emissions—an environmentally harmful greenhouse gas—compared to refining new metal.
Concerns about limited resources such as raw materials and land space for disposal of waste have increased the importance of recycling. However maximum environmental benefit is gained by reducing the amount of waste produced, and reusing items in their current form, for example refilling bottles. All recycling techniques consume energy, for transportation and processing, and some also use considerable amounts of water. Both of these resources have an environmental impact which is why campaigners use the slogan "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" to indicate the preferred order for waste management in the waste hierarchy.
Comparing recycling with normal extraction
Recycling 1000 kg of aluminium saves up to 8000 kg of bauxite, four kg of chemical products and 14000 kW·h of electricity.
It takes 20 times more energy to make aluminum from bauxite more than using recycled aluminum.
A 20% reduction in emissions from glass furnaces and up to 32% reduction in energy usage.
For every 1000 kg of recycled glass used, approx 315 kg of carbon dioxide and 1,200 kg of raw materials are spared.
1000 kg of paper from recycled material conserves about 7,000 US gal (26,000 L) of water, 17-31 trees and 4,000 kW·h of electricity, and reduces the rate of virgin forests being cut to make tree farms.
Milling paper from recycled paper uses 20% less energy than it does to make paper from fresh paper trees grown on tree farms at the cost of more pollution caused by additional transportation and chemical cleaning treatment.