Recycling Can Help Reduce Climate Change

Guest blogger – Jessica

Learn more about how recycling can reduce climate change via our webinar being held on Friday, April 9. Register here.

According to many scientists and environmentalists, climate change is occurring at a dangerous pace. Whereas we cannot refute the hard evidence gathered to support this claim, the real debate is whether human activity has played a key role in the rise of global warming.

Since the Industrial Revolution, we have relied on the burning of fossil fuels for energy, releasing many harsh chemicals into the atmosphere. The widespread use of automobiles, the extraction of oil for fuel and the burning of refined gas have been a high source of extra carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air.

These are commonly-known human contributions to the rise of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. What many do not know is that municipal solid waste is also a culprit in the case of climate change, and recycling can help.

In 2007, 97% of CO2 emissions, 35% of methane, and 14% of nitrous oxide emissions came from energy production. Recycling can save energy by:
1. Reducing the amount of energy used in the four stages of product development:
-Extraction of raw materials,
-Manufacture of these materials into products,
-Product use by consumers, and
-Product disposal.
2. Consuming 95% less energy using recycled aluminum scrap to make new aluminum cans instead of extracting its raw material, bauxite ore.
3. Consuming 75% less energy to make recycled steel into new products, rather than using steel produced from its raw material, iron ore.

When energy is saved, less greenhouse gas will be produced in the process.

Other ways recycling and composting reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help decrease our contribution to climate change are:
- Through composting, methane (a greenhouse gas 72 times more potent than CO2 ) is decreased, by reducing the release of this greenhouse gas through anaerobic decomposition of organic waste in landfills.
- By reducing methane buildup in landfills we can decrease the need for flaring, the process of burning methane as it is released into the atmosphere, which creates CO2 as a byproduct.

While climate change may not be a tangible or immediate threat, it has the potential to negatively impact our planet. Rising temperatures can cause changes in ecosystems and disease patterns, sea level rise and increased extreme weather events, among other effects.

Now is the time to be proactive and do our part to limit our waste production and energy consumption by recycling, and as a result we can limit our contribution to climate change.

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