Recycling: Creating a Culture of Sustainability
For the past couple of years, there has been so much focus and buzz around going green, recycling, and sustainability.
As a Nigerian, all these words can sound a bit strange or foreign. There is no room or arrangement in place to support recycling or sustainability. But looking around, it is obvious our society needs it. So what exactly is recycling?
When most people think about recycling, they think about the three green arrows moving in a circle or a loop. If that image is what springs up in your head, you are on the right track. Your head dey there.
Recycling is the process of recovering and reprocessing waste materials for use in the production of new materials and objects.
Let’s break it down further. Recycling has processes, each process is a key step that can’t be overlooked.
Step one is Collection and processing.
Step Two; Manufacturing
Step Three; Purchasing recycled products and materials.
These three steps are the three arrows you see going in a circle. These steps create an endless loop. Recycling is a process or cycle that doesn’t stop. Each step or process clears the path for the next step. Without one step, the loop ends.
Earlier on, I mentioned sustainability. So what role does sustainability play in recycling?
Sustainability revolves around protecting the planet and stopping climate change whilst promoting social development, without endangering life on Earth.
Recycling should be a sustainable practice by minimizing negative environmental impacts and conserving energy and natural resources. The whole point of recycling is to reduce the amount of energy expended, reduce waste and preserve the environment and its resources. But if recycling isn’t sustainable none of its goals can be achieved. All efforts put into collection, manufacturing, and processing would be in vain.
Sustainable recycling ensures that the process of recycling isn’t doing more harm to the economy, and environment. It also ensures it doesn’t cost more to purchase or produce recycled products.
Let’s discuss some of the major benefits of recycling;
- Recycling protects the ecosystem and wildlife.
- It saves energy.
- It prevents further pollution.
- It reduces carbon emissions.
- Recycling creates job opportunities in recycling industries.
- Reduction of waste introduced into the environment.
In Nigeria, the recycling or waste management business is not a very common one. As it requires so much capital to begin. The collection process is where most of the capital is spent because there’s a long line of people involved.
In the first step (collection), the process begins with the scavengers, then the middlemen before finally reaching the recycling company. This is one too many people.
To reduce this process and curb unnecessary expenses, here’s what can be done;
- Curbside Collection
Curbside Collection involves garbage trucks picking up waste and taking them directly to the recycling plant. To make sorting out the types of waste easier, different garbage cans should be allocated to different kinds of waste. A specific can for glass waste, another for plastic, and another for metal. This method is cost-effective and stress-free.
These garbage cans should be placed all over the country, even in rural areas.
Another way to reduce the cost of collection is by introducing drop-off centers. These are centers where people or waste management companies can go and drop off their waste. Then the recycling companies take the waste from the center for recycling. Drop-off centers are great for locations where curbside collection won’t work.
You may be thinking, “all this is great but it’s the government’s job to start sustainable recycling.” It might interest you to know that recycling starts with you. Yes! You!
The final step in recycling is purchasing recycled material. If no one buys the recycled material the cycle cannot continue. So to keep the loop going your role is to buy recycled products.
Another thing you can do is reuse items in your home. Instead of throwing out that glass or plastic container immediately reuse it. Store food items, tea bags, or snacks in them.
Sustainable recycling benefits every single person on the planet. It also benefits the economy. Do the little you can to care for your environment. Remember recycling starts with you.