By this point in the industrialization process, developed nations clearly see the urgent need for recycling; as the effects of resource mismanagement and contamination from the early development years have resulted in poorly managed landfills, significantly contaminated lands, and fatal chronic health effects (majorly affecting those in poorer neighborhoods/nations), as residential development encroached contaminated sites. Developing nations in areas like Sub-Saharan Africa, south America, and south Asia must learn from the mistakes of the industrialized nations to avoid a similar fate. To do so, three key factors must be considered: Resource Management, Sustainability, and Resiliency.
In most of today’s consumerist society, items are overproduced, and poorly made, and thus have become even more disposal, resulting in an ever increasing need for waste sites and landfill capacity. As a result, the finite nature of the many resources we rely on to have a functioning society has become increasingly evident; as developing nations join the race to produce, consume, and operate similarly to their developed counterparts. These limited resources must be wisely utilized in both harvesting as well as processing. Resources such as crude oil, precious and semi-precious metals, gems, clean water, and clean air, among many others must be properly managed.
Sustainability refers to the ability to maintain the function of a thing at a certain level or rate. When it comes to sustainable design or environmental sustainability recycling provides a unique opportunity for innovative design with an eco-friendly twist; resulting in positive impacts for both the environment as well as product manufacturers. Recycling provides an alternate pathway in a product’s life cycle by diverting valuable resources from the landfill, and back into the production process; saving manufacturers the associated disposal costs.
What does it mean to be resilient? In simple terms, resiliency implies an in-built ability to spring back into shape or recover quickly from applied loads. Therefore one may ask, how does recycling come into play? studies have shown in various contexts that the implementation of recycled materials can have positive effects in increasing the quality and/or durability of a material or its resulting end-product. This has been the case in recycled organics, glass, tires/rubbers, plastics, pavement materials, textiles, and so on. Recycled materials offer a significantly overlooked opportunity in enhancing the resiliency of everyday consumer products as well as industry grade materials.
In light of the aforementioned statements, the role of recycling in resource management, sustainability, and resiliency becomes crystal clear. Recycling assists in the reduction of waste production, making it easier to manage current quantities of available finite natural resources while promoting the sustainability of the finished end-products as well as the environments from which the raw materials are mined. All these factors combined results in a resilient infrastructure of interacting systems; comprised of economic, social and financial components.
Therefore, when we look at the case for recycling it not only has a significant impact on a global scale, but immediate local impacts as well; from waste reduction, cleaner air, increased water quality, land/eco-sustainability, increased employment opportunities, and an overall human health benefits, the question becomes blatantly clear, Why NOT Recycle?
Transforming buzzwords into reality through intentional action and incentivized programs.