Recycling benefits the environment through conserving energy. This is achieved through reducing the associated fossil fuels used when extracting or mining resources, transporting them and then manufacturing new materials such as metals, plastics, paper and cardboard.

Whilst recycling is one of the least favourable options in the waste hierarchy system it is better than having to harvest new resources to produce manufactured goods. For example the total amount of energy required to recycle aluminium is only approximately 5%* of the total amount of energy required to mine new metal compounds and convert it into a useable product. Furthermore there are considerable savings in reduced CO2 emissions.

Please see the table below for more information from the BMRA (British Metals Recycling Association) website: [1]

Recycling Scorecard New metals made using recycled metals Energy Saving
Aluminium 39% 95%
Copper 32% 85%
Lead 74% 60%
Steel 42% 62-74%
Zinc 20% 60%

EU figures indicate that using recycled raw materials, including metals, cuts CO2 emissions by some 200 million tonnes every year.

There are also other environmental benefits, for example, using recycled steel to make new steel enables reductions such as:

  • 86% in air pollution
  • 40% in water use
  • 76% in water pollution [2]

Other Facts on Recycling:

  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
  • 275,000 tonnes of plastic are used each year in the UK, that’s about 15 million bottles per day.
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose. [3]

Waste Hierarchy: [4]

Article 4 of the revised EU Waste Framework Directive (Directive 2008/98/EC) sets out the ‘waste hierarchy’, five steps for dealing with waste, ranked according to environmental impact. So prevention, which offers the best outcomes for the environment, is at the top of the priority order, followed by preparing for re-use, recycling, other recovery and disposal, in descending order of environmental preference.

Stages Include
Prevention: Using less material in design and manufacture. Keeping products for longer; re-use. Using less hazardous
Preparing for re-use: Checking, cleaning, repairing, refurbishing, whole items or spare parts.
Recycling: Turning waste into a new substance or product. Includes composting if it meets quality protocols.
Other recovery: Anaerobic digestion, incineration with energy recovery, gasification and pyrolysis which produce energy (fuels, heat and power) and materials from waste; some backfilling.
Disposal: Landfill and incineration without energy recovery.

Grist Environmental is committed to caring for the environment by encouraging recycling in all of the business sectors we service. We believe that the benefits in recycling are obvious and aim to lead by example in our region.

This will be achieved by contributing towards sustainable development and integrating environmental awareness at all levels in our business. We always consider the environmental impact of all we do and we will continue to invest in the development of new technologies and the implementation of more efficient working procedures, to help improve recycling rates from the waste we collect, sort and process.

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