Paper Sample on Unlocking the Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits of Recycling

Published: 2023-10-09
Paper Sample on Unlocking the Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits of Recycling
Essay type:  Argumentative essays
Categories:  Economics Ecology Global warming
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1643 words
14 min read

The majority of natural resources on earth are finite. As such, they are limited and bound to run out if not well preserved and managed. As the world’s population rises and its demand for disposable products increases, depletion of the finite resources is happening at an alarming rate. The associated waste production and pollution are also significant environmental threats. Over the years, it has been shown that nearly all the products used in daily life, such as aluminum products, bakeware, tin and steel cans, cardboard, most glass products, electronics, magazines, and other paper products, plastics, and even food can be recycled. Unfortunately, while 70% of all the waste produced can either be recycled or reused, only 25% is recycled (Renewable Resources Co, 2016). The remaining tons of waste are incinerated or buried in landfills, activities that further contribute to the degradation of the environment. Resultantly, more efforts have been directed towards recycling by both governments and environmentalists in the recent past. While those opposed to recycling argue that the process is not cost-effective and may lead to pollution, studies have shown that these downsides can be addressed and hence make the process greatly beneficial for both the environment and economies.

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Recycling refers to the collection and reuse of unwanted materials. Over the years, recycling has become synonymous with the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ phrase. Its primary goal is to reduce the consumption of non-renewable resources, reuse products, and recycle them once their useful life has ended. The process does not only impact the environment positively but also improves the quality people’s lives. Some of the benefits of recycling include the reduction of waste in landfills and pollution, as well as the reduction of energy consumption and costs. It is also estimated that if half of Americans recycled regularly, greenhouse emission would be reduced by the same factor as getting 25 million vehicles from the roads (Renewable Resources Co, 2016). Recycling also reduces the exploitation of natural resources, creates jobs, and also boosts economies. In this light, this paper seeks to discuss in greater detail the environmental, economic, and social benefits of recycling, and hence prove why it should be made mandatory.Environmental Benefits of Recycling

As mentioned in the introduction, most of the earth’s natural resources are finite. Thus, the preservation of these natural resources is of the utmost importance to both the present and future generations. The use of recycled materials reduces the consumption of natural resources and hence ensures their longevity. For instance, it is estimated that recycling a ton of steel, 1000 pounds of coal, and 2,500 pounds of iron ore, and 40 pounds of limestone are saved (Renewable Resources Co, 2016). The need to preserve the finite natural resources is more critical today since the world population is expected to hit 9 billion in the coming 30 to 40 years (Broadbent, 2016). Cognizant of this fact, the world should lean more towards a circular economy where products are designed in a way that allows reuse and remanufacturing. Other than preserving these natural resources, recycling also helps reduce the disturbances and pollution associated with the extraction of new raw materials. In extension, the destruction of natural ecosystems is reduced. For instance, recycling of paper decreases the demand for wood and hence directly preserves the biodiversity of forests. Recycling also reduces pollution, a significant problem in the modern-day world. Contamination by landfills is a major cause of environmental pollution. Recycling of hazardous materials prevents this form of contamination and hence contributes to the preservation of the environment. Recycling of construction waste has also been shown to play a critical role in the conservation of the environment and the provision of raw materials (Abkenari et al., 2017).

Global warming is among the biggest threats facing humankind today. The phenomenon has been associated with some of the catastrophic events witnessed in higher frequency in the recent past, such as droughts, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, among others (Diffenbaugh et al., 2017). According to scientists, the window to reverse this trend is fast closing, and hence there is a need to address the situation urgently. In response to this call, the international community has developed several measures to mitigate global warming. The reduction of greenhouse gases emission is among these strategies. Unfortunately, most countries across the world have failed to meet their targets as laid down in the Paris Agreement (Geden, 2016). To help achieve the target, recycling should be made mandatory. According to research, recycling reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and hence contributes to the fight against global warming. For instance, Hole and Hole (2019) established that the adoption of recycling in the textile industry, which is among the major contributors to greenhouse gases emission, has led to various environmental benefits.

Recycling reduces energy consumption directly leads to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. By using recycled materials, the emission of greenhouse gases from the extraction of virgin materials is reduced (Kittipongvises et al., 2016). Manufacturing recycled materials also use less energy and hence lead to a reduction in energy consumption. A study carried out in 2016 revealed that the use of lithium-ion batteries is on the rise around the world as more people embrace portable devices (Boyden et al., 2016). The paper also established that recycling these batteries helps reduce greenhouse emissions, energy consumption, and helps in the preservation of natural resources. Production of energy from recycled waste, a strategy that is increasingly being adopted around the world, has also been shown to significantly reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (Kasper, 2013).

Economic Benefits of Recycling

While the environmental benefits of recycling are well-known, its economic benefits are often overlooked. This notwithstanding, recycling plays a critical role in the economy of jurisdictions where the practice is mandatory. For instance, in New Jersey, where mandatory recycling was made law in 1987, it has become an essential segment of the economy (New Jersey Wastewise Business Network, 2015). According to studies, there exist four employment opportunities in recycling for every job opportunity in waste management (Renewable Resources Co, 2016). Following the recycling process, more employment opportunities are created in the manufacture as well as the sale of the new goods. Statistics from the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive indicate that recycling and the associated remanufacturing industries generate revenue worth more than $1 billion and create thousands of jobs (Renewable Resources Co, 2016).

Moreover, recycling helps communities save money that could otherwise have been spent in landfill production, waste handling, and incineration. The savings are realized from the avoided cost of disposal, as well as a reduction in solid waste services. Those opposed to recycling argue that the process costs too much. However, while recycling is associated with some costs, recycling programs are profitable in the long-run. When well-run, recycling initiatives have been shown to cost less than incinerators and landfills. For instance, in 2011, Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in New Jersey saved $145,562.57 from avoided costs of disposal (New Jersey Wastewise Business Network, 2015). Opponents also argue that recycling should pay for itself. According to studies, as more families and entities embrace recycling, it becomes cheaper and can even get to the point of paying for itself. As such, making recycling mandatory would be more economical.

Social Benefits of Recycling

Recycling also carries several social benefits for local communities. Other than providing job opportunities and recycled products to the local communities, the process also helps engage the community. By providing opportunities for the unemployed within the communities, recycling helps tackle some societal challenges such as crime. For instance, research has shown that informal recycling offers employment to marginalized individuals, such as drug addicts, who are less likely to get stable employment (Jaffe et al., 2018). Informal recycling involves the collection of waste materials for reuse or recycling. The activity generates income for these populations and hence prevents them from engaging in illegal activities such as acquisitive crime and drug dealing. Through recycling, communities also get a chance to transform formerly dilapidated spaces into beautiful parks that serve both aesthetic and recreational purposes. For example, Freshkills Park in Staten Island, New York City, was once the largest landfill in the world (Nandi & Mont, 2018). However, through recycling, the landfill is being transformed into an activity-filled public park. Engagement of the youth in the local communities is critical in the implementation of such projects. It also helps them understand how waste shapes the landscapes around them and the change that recycling can bring.


While opponents of recycling argue that it costs too much and leads to pollution, this paper has detailed the environmental, economic, and social benefits of recycling. Other than preserving the earth’s finite resources, recycling also helps address issues such as global warming. Economically, it creates jobs and helps save energy. Finally, recycling helps make communities safer and more beautiful. Therefore, recycling should be mandatory.


Abkenari, M., Razaei, A., & Pournayeb, N. (2017). Recycling Construction Waste Materials to Reduce the Environmental Pollutants. International Journal of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 9(8), 1138-1142. Retrieved from

Boyden, A., Soo, V. K., & Doolan, M. (2016). The environmental impacts of recycling portable lithium-ion batteries. Procedia Cirp, 48, 188-193. Retrieved from

Broadbent, C. (2016). Steel’s recyclability: demonstrating the benefits of recycling steel to achieve a circular economy. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 21(11), 1658-1665. Retrieved from

Diffenbaugh, N. S., Singh, D., Mankin, J. S., & Horton, D. E. (2017). Quantifying the influence of global warming on unprecedented extreme climate events. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(19), 4881-4886. Retrieved from

Geden, O. (2016). The Paris Agreement and the inherent inconsistency of climate policymaking. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 7(6), 790-797. Retrieved from

Hole, G., & Hole, A. S. (2019). Recycling as the way to greener production: A mini review. Journal of Cleaner Production, 212, 910-915. Retrieved from

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