How world can harness the power of recycling – Arab News

How world can harness the power of recycling – Arab News
Woman are collecting garbage on the beach with the backdrop of the light of the sun. / love the sea concept.

How world can harness the power of recycling

How world can harness the power of recycling
By repurposing materials such as paper, plastic and glass, recycling reduces our reliance on virgin resources. (Shutterstock)

Short Url

Global Recycling Day, which is marked annually on March 18, stands as a poignant reminder of the indispensable role recycling plays in safeguarding our planet’s future. This international initiative ought to serve as a clarion call to individuals, communities, businesses and governments worldwide to prioritize recycling efforts and embrace sustainable practices.
By emphasizing the significance of recycling in conserving natural resources, mitigating pollution and combating climate change, Global Recycling Day should also foster a collective commitment toward building a more environmentally conscious world. What we need is heightened global action in terms of advancing recycling initiatives. Let us explore the multifaceted benefits of recycling, coupled with compelling statistics.
When it comes to conserving natural resources, recycling serves as a cornerstone in the conservation of natural resources, offering a sustainable solution to mitigate resource depletion. By repurposing materials such as paper, plastic, glass and metal, recycling reduces our reliance on virgin resources, thereby preserving forests, conserving energy and mitigating habitat destruction.
For example, recycling one tonne of paper can save 17 trees, 26,600 liters of water and 1,444 liters of oil, highlighting the profound impact of recycling on resource conservation. Furthermore, recycling metals such as aluminum significantly reduces energy consumption, with recycled aluminum requiring only 5 percent of the energy needed to produce virgin aluminum. These statistics underscore the critical role of recycling in promoting resource efficiency and minimizing our ecological footprint.
In addition to conserving natural resources, recycling plays a pivotal role in mitigating pollution and curbing environmental degradation. The improper disposal of waste contributes to land, water and air pollution, posing significant health hazards to humans and wildlife alike.
Recycling mitigates pollution by diverting waste from landfills and incinerators, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preventing soil and water contamination. According to the World Bank, global waste generation is expected to rise to 3.4 billion tonnes by 2050, up from 2 billion tonnes in 2016, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive recycling strategies to combat pollution. By adopting recycling practices, communities can significantly reduce the environmental burden associated with waste disposal, fostering cleaner and healthier environments for current and future generations.
More importantly, the imperative to combat climate change has propelled recycling to the forefront of sustainable development agendas worldwide. Recycling plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions by minimizing the need for energy-intensive extraction, processing and manufacturing of raw materials.
Additionally, recycling organic waste through composting reduces landfill sites’ emission of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. By embracing recycling initiatives, societies can make significant strides toward carbon neutrality and a low-carbon future. 

On Global Recycling Day, we should encourage the adoption of innovative technologies and practices to enhance recycling efficiency.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

We should also support the transition toward a circular economy, where resources are utilized efficiently and waste is minimized through reuse, recycling and regeneration. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation emphasizes the transformative potential of a circular economy, with it having the potential to generate $4.5 trillion in economic benefits by 2030. By closing the loop on material flows and extending the lifespan of products and materials, recycling can foster economic resilience, innovation and job creation. Moreover, the circular economy offers a sustainable alternative to the linear “take-make-dispose” model, thereby reducing resource scarcity and environmental degradation.
In other words, through collaborative efforts, we can harness the economic and environmental benefits of a circular economy, driving sustainable growth and prosperity.
Beyond its environmental benefits, recycling empowers communities and promotes social equity by fostering inclusive participation and economic opportunities. For instance, recycling initiatives create jobs in waste collection, sorting, processing and manufacturing, particularly in marginalized communities. The International Labour Organization highlights the potential of the recycling sector to generate decent employment opportunities, particularly for women and young people.
Additionally, community-based recycling programs enhance social cohesion, environmental awareness and civic engagement, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility toward waste management. By investing in inclusive recycling infrastructure and capacity-building initiatives, governments can promote equitable access to recycling services and alleviate poverty in underserved communities.
On Global Recycling Day, we should also encourage the adoption of innovative technologies and practices to enhance recycling efficiency and effectiveness. Advanced recycling technologies such as chemical recycling, pyrolysis and 3D printing offer promising solutions to address recycling challenges and optimize resource recovery. The EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan emphasizes the role of innovation in advancing sustainable materials management and fostering a competitive recycling industry.
Moreover, digital technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence hold the potential to revolutionize supply chain transparency, traceability and accountability in recycling operations. By fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, the international community can unlock the transformative potential of technology in advancing recycling initiatives and achieving environmental sustainability.
In a nutshell, Global Recycling Day serves as a catalyst for collective action toward building a sustainable and environmentally conscious world. By recognizing the intrinsic value of recycling in conserving natural resources, mitigating pollution, combating climate change and fostering social equity, we can drive meaningful change and create lasting impact. Through collaborative efforts and innovative solutions, we can also harness the power of recycling to forge a path toward a circular economy and secure a thriving planet for generations to come.
As we mark Global Recycling Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to recycling and embrace our collective responsibility to safeguard the Earth’s precious resources for future generations.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian American political scientist.
X: @Dr_Rafizadeh

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point of view