Why Recycling Really is Worth It

There are a number of misconceptions floating around about recycling and whether it’s really worthwhile. Many people believe that the benefits don’t outweigh the hassle, but that’s just not true. There are so many reasons to recycle and when done properly, it’s a great way to help the environment and keep our world a lot cleaner.

Here are a few reasons why some people don’t think it’s worth it to recycle, along with the actual facts that show recycling really does make a difference.

“Very little is actually salvaged”

Actually, there is quite a bit we’re able to salvage and reuse from recycled products.

When it comes to electronics, there is plastic and glass of course, but there are also plenty of valuable metals that can be recycled as well. These components can be reused to make new electronics, as well as a variety of consumer products. E-waste programs are becoming much more efficient, and we’re continually able to salvage more and more material from electronics.

Recycled tires have a number of different uses, including being used in roofing tiles, playground surfaces and road construction. There are even some buildings which have been constructed with recycled tires.

The paint cans you recycle are used in several different ways. Any leftover latex paint is recycled and used to create new paint, oil-based paints can be reused in fuel mixes, and paint cans can be melted down to be used in any number of metal products. Finally, used engine oil can be re-refined and used in a number of petroleum-based products, including new lubricating oil, heating oil, and asphalt.

“Transporting recycled goods results in more pollution”

While transporting recycled goods does result in some pollution, the overall benefits still vastly outweigh any negative effects. A study by the EPA in 2006 found that recycling reduced carbon emissions by 49.7 million metric tons, largely due to a decrease in incinerator usage. That’s the equivalent of removing nearly 40 million cars from the road.

“Recycling is more expensive than throwing items away”

This is only true if a recycling program is poorly managed. Assuming recycling is done properly, it can be just as cost-effective, and in some cases even cheaper, than disposal programs. In fact, according to the EPA, a well-run recycling program can cost as little as $50 per ton to operate. This is actually less than a disposal program, which can cost anywhere from $70 - $200 per ton. So, as technology improves and programs become more efficient, there’s no reason why recycling needs to be more expensive than disposal.

“Recycled electronics get shipped to foreign countries and are taken apart in unsafe environments”

In Alberta, this simply isn’t true. One of our primary objectives is to make sure electronics aren’t shipped to developing countries where safety abuses may occur. All electronics collected by Alberta Recycling are disassembled by professional electronics processors right here in Alberta. These facilities follow strict standards and protocols to ensure the process is extremely safe for everyone involved.

“There’s nowhere in my local area to recycle things like electronics, used paint cans, tires, and oil”

Alberta Recycling has 440 collection sites spread throughout the province that collect a wide range of items, including electronics, paint cans, tires, used oil, and more. To find the collection site closest to you, scroll to our Recycling Depot Finder below, type in your community and select the item you wish to recycle.

Glass and metals can essentially be recycled indefinitely without any loss in quality.

“Everything can only be recycled once”

This is another common misconception out there. People believe items can only be recycled once, so they start to think “What’s the point?” In actuality, most items can be recycled over and over again. Glass and metals can essentially be recycled indefinitely without any loss in quality. This is why it’s so important to recycle electronics, which contain a number of components made from these materials.

By recycling your used electronics you’re essentially donating the components to build an entirely new product. While plastic can’t be recycled indefinitely, it can often be reused up to nine times. And engineers are continually finding new uses for recycled plastic even after it starts to degrade in quality. Plastic is now being used to create synthetic “lumber” for decks and benches, and is also being used in asphalt to create various road materials.

“People don’t want to buy recycled products”

It’s actually quite likely that many of the products you buy are made from recycled parts without you even knowing. In fact, the value of products made with recycled materials sold each year is over $5 billion.

Many different types of consumer products are regularly made with recycled goods. For example, over 1400 different products are made with recycled plastics. And many people actually seek out recycled products to buy. This is partially because recycled products are often cheaper, but also because they want to do their part to help the environment. Many products actually advertise that they are made with recycled goods as part of their marketing strategy.

“Recycling isn’t really that beneficial for the environment”

If you still have any doubts about how beneficial recycling is for the environment, consider the following facts:

  • It saves energy and resources: Recycling steel, tin and other metals saves up to 74% of the energy required to make new products. And recycling plastic and glass saves about one-third of the energy that’s used when making products from scratch. Even items like tires, paint, and oil can be used in new products in order to save energy and precious non-renewable resources.
  • It helps the environment: Products like electronics, paint, tires, and used oil can pose a serious health risk when thrown away and placed in landfills. They can contaminate land and water if not disposed of properly, so recycling these items is always the best option.
  • It saves landfill space: Landfills are expensive to operate, and space for them is running out. By regularly recycling, Albertans have been able to save millions in tax dollars over the last few decades.

It’s Worth it to Keep Recycling!

As you can see, there are a number of excellent reasons to keep recycling. So, make sure to bring your used electronics, paint, tires, and oil to the nearest Alberta Recycling collection site and do your part for the environment.