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What are the advantages of recycling plastic?

Updated April 17, 2017

Recycling is socially responsible and beneficial to the environment. While most people know that recycling is something that everyone should do, there are some who would like a tangible reason for recycling. There are several advantages to recycling plastic materials.

Reducing landfill

Plastic is not a biodegradable material, which means that it can sit in a landfill tip for hundreds or thousands of years. One metric ton of recycled plastic can save approximately 5.6 cubic metres of space in a landfill. Best of all, plastics can be indefinitely recycled, which means they could potentially be eradicated from landfills altogether.

Energy conservation

By using recyclable plastic materials, factories can produce new products using approximately two-thirds less energy than with raw material production. Around 450 g of recycled plastic bottles made from polythene terephthalate can save nearly 12,000 BTUs of heat energy. To put it into terms that hit close to home, one metric ton of recycled plastic can save a year's worth of energy consumption for two people.

Emissions reduction

Factories that produce plastic products from raw materials also produce a great deal of harmful greenhouse gases. By using recycled plastic materials, production time is greatly reduced, which means that less greenhouse emissions are making their way into the atmosphere.

Conservation of resources

Oil and natural gas are two of the main components used to produce the raw materials that make plastic. These natural resources are not only in limited supply, but also in high demand for other important uses such as powering cars and producing electricity. Because plastic materials are already in such abundance, recycling these existing materials means that less natural resources are used for production of new plastic materials.

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About the Author

Heather Clark is a professional writer with a bachelor's degree in communications from Austin Peay State University, where she was a features writer for the "AllState" campus newspaper. In addition to being a contributor for various websites, she is also a full-time staff writer/photographer for the "Courier," the U.S. Army news publication for Fort Campbell, Ky.