The separate waste collection is an important condition for waste recycling. This could mean restoration, reuse, recycling, and recycled content. The ultimate goal is to prevent the accumulation of waste.
The reuse of waste from packaging helps to tackle a number of environmental problems.
- The separate waste collection reduces the accumulation of waste in landfills and its contamination of the natural environment. No one wants to live next to a landfill, right?
- The separate waste collection saves our resources and protects nature. We are protecting the animal habitats. Recycled paper saves millions of trees from being cut.
- The separate waste collection helps the tackling of climate impact. The production of packaging material from recycled material releases significantly less hydrogen, which is mainly to blame for the global warming. The trees thus saved absorb hydrogen and cool down the atmosphere.
- When we throw out the waste by separating it by type, the waste gets recycled. Recycling consumes much less electricity than production from a base raw material.
- When we throw out the waste by separating it by type we are behaving more responsibly in respect of the environment and the health and future of us and of all those who will come after us.
What is the problem?
The packaging is mostly made of plastics, paper, metals, and glass.
- Natural resources are used for the production of these materials such as wood, oil, metal ores and other raw materials that cannot be restored naturally with the speed at which we are consuming them, in other words, they are getting depleted. The production of these raw materials raises serious environmental, health, and ethical issues.
- The production of packaging releases toxic gases, waste water contaminated with chemicals and other dangerous wastes which affect adversely all components of the environment, having a negative impact on human health and accelerating climate changes.
- After the packagings have fulfilled their functions, if they are not reused, huge amounts of waste are accumulated that decompose in nature over a long period of time and jeopardize the health and lives of people and other living organisms, threatening our environment.
Plastics are usually produced by polymerization or by polycondensation of monomers or copolymers , while the base raw material is oil. Oil is pumped from the depths of earth using pumps, and enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are released.Carbon dioxide is the main factor of global warming. Oil is an exhaustible resource. As the oilfields and deposits are unevenly distributed around the world, oil has to be transported over long distances and the transportation itself poses risks to the environment – there are incidents resulting in oil spills and fires that contaminate waters, poisoning sea and ocean waters and the air. If the plastic packaging is not disposed of separately, it will end up in the natural environment polluting it and posing a threat to the natural environment and to the existence of many species.
- Plastics decompose in more than 200 years in a natural environment
- If one lines up all the polystyrene cups produced in just one day, the line of cups will run all the way around Earth.
- The polystyrene fibers contained in two plastic bottles would be sufficient for the production of one baseball cap.
- Five PET bottles would be needed for the production of one square meter of polyester rug, one t-shirt size XXL or the filler of one skiing jacket.
- Water accounts for less than 10% of the price of a bottle of water, while the remaining more than 90% goes to cover the bottling, transportation, and marketing.
- The energy saved by the recycling of one plastic bottle is enough to power a computer for 25 minutes.
- The recycling of one ton of plastic waste saves about 7,200 kilowatt/hours of energy or 2,600 liters of oil.
- The recycling of plastics saves double the amount of energy than the burning of plastics in an incinerator.
- The incineration of 10,000 tons of plastic waste creates one job, whereas the storing of the same amount of waste in a landfill creates six jobs. The recycling of these 10,000 tons would create 36 jobs.
- The following plastic packaging types are recyclable:
Code 1 PET: Soda and mineral water bottles, containers for laundry detergents, transparent packing foil.
Code 2 HDPE Bags, crates, pallets, vessels for laundry detergents.
Code 3 PVC Containers for laundry detergents.
Plastics with other codes are produced in very small quantities and are less often recycled.
Paper is produced by pressing wet natural fibers that contain cellulose. Cellulose is most often produced from wood mass from suitable tree species, ones with soft texture such as spruce, fir, andpine, but other natural fibers can also be used, ones made from cotton, jute, hemp, and others. There is paper everywhere around us – books and newspapers, boxes, labels, and many other objects. About 40 % of the waste on Earth is thought to be paper. This means that the production of raw materials is great in volume. The excessive cutting of trees makes animals suffer because it destroys their habitats. We, people, also suffer because of its consequences regarding air purity and climate change. Trees, the “lungs” of our planet, are actively involved in the water and hydrogen cycles in the atmosphere and soil.
- The most widely used copying paper decomposes in two years.
- Wood accounts for more than 90% of the material used for producing paper.
- The production of paper is responsible for about 43% of all cut trees
- The recycling of one ton of newsprint saves about one ton of timber.
- The recycling of one ton of silk or fax paper saves a little more than two tons of timber.
- Paper can be recycled up to eight times
- The recycling of one ton of paper saves about 13 trees as well as 398 liters of oil, 4,100 kilowatt/hours of electricity, four cubic meters of landfill space, 31,780 liters of water
- The recycling of one-half of the paper used around the world would prevent the cutting down of about 80,000 square kilometers of forests.
Metals are produced from metal ores – iron, lead, copper, zinc, etc. The production of metals from ores is an extremely energy-consuming process that results in the discharge in the atmosphere of polluting gases. If not collected separately, the metals that end up in the natural environment take hundreds of years to decompose, releasing toxic substances in the soil and water.
- Steel and aluminum are among the most widely used packaging materials
- Both metals are easy to recycle and to separate from the other waste
- The production of one ton of recycled aluminum creates 95% less air pollution than the production of the same amount from raw materials, saving four tons of chemical products and four tons of aluminum ore
- The use of recycled aluminum results in savings of 95%, whereas the use of recycled steel saves about 60% of the energy that would have been spent on producing the same quantity of the metal from raw materials.
- The production of 20 cans from recycled material consumes the amount of energy that is necessary for the production of a single can from raw materials.
- The recycling of one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep one TV set running for at least three hours;
- The recycling of 20 kilograms of aluminum cans saves the discharge of 20 kilograms of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- The production of one ton of aluminum cans from recycled material saves the consumption of five tons of boxite;
- The energy spent for recycling of aluminum amounts to just 10% of the energy needed for the production of the same amount from ore;
- The loss of raw material when an aluminum can is thrown away is the same as the cost of filling the same can halfway with gasoline and then pouring the gasoline on the ground;
- The energy used for recycling one aluminum can is the same as the energy produced from one tablespoon of gasoline.
Quartz sand is the basic raw material for producing glass. Silicon dioxide (SiO2), potassium silicates (Na2SiO3, calcium silicates (Na2SiO3), sodium and lime are the main ingredients of industrially produced glass for everyday use, including for packaging. The glass manufacturing process includes stages of melting various mixes of ingredients, pouring, shaping and cooling with the factory machinery operating all the time.
- Glass takes more than 1,000 years to decompose in a natural environment.
- Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled an indefinite number of times.
- One glass bottle can be used up to 50 times.
- The recycling of glass waste reduces air pollution by about 20% and consumes 40% less electricity than the amount required for production from raw materials.
- Reduces by about 80% the amount of waste generated by the production of raw materials for glass manufacture.
- Reduces by about 50% the quantity of water used for the production of glass.
- One ton of crushed glass saves 1.1 tons of raw materials.
- Recycling of one glass bottle saves as much electricity as needed to keep one 100-watt light bulb on for four hours.
- Recycling of one glass bottle saves as much electricity as needed to keep one TV set running for one hour and a half.
- It has been calculated that the recycling of every 100,000 tons of glass creates 500 jobs.
If we fail to collect waste separately, the result will be:
We will be processing excessive amounts of natural resources, depleting them and unnecessarily polluting waters, air, and soil and thereby creating unfavorable living conditions for many affected plant and animal species, including for ourselves by endangering the environment in which we are living, and we would also be leaving these problems behind to the future generations.