Avoiding the production of a material in the first place is the single most effective way to avoid emissions at all stages of its life cycle. Reusing materials also diverts waste from disposal, at least temporarily. (Source)
However, once a material has been produced, recycling is probably the best way to dispose of it. Here are some facts you can use when somebody tells you that it's just too much trouble to recycle that pop can or piece of paper!
How recycling saves resources, energy and GHG emissions:
The waste sector accounts for 3.5 per cent of Canada's total greenhouse-gas emissions.
Recycling one aluminum can saves enough electricity to operate a TV for up to 3 hours. (Source)
A ton of paper made from recycled fibers instead of virgin fibers conserves:
* 7,000 gallons of water
* 17-31 trees
* 4,000 KWh of electricity
* 60 pounds of air pollutants
Increase storage of carbon in trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood, in a process called "carbon sequestration." Waste prevention and recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain standing in the forest, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Using recycled glass to make new glass products requires 40 percent less energy than making it from all new materials.
When recovered steel is used instead of iron ore to make new steel, water consumption is reduced by about 50%.
It takes 70% less energy to recycle plastic than it does to make it from raw materials.
A family of three can reduce GHG emissions by more than 125 kilograms per year by backyard composting.
Reduce and reuse too!
If you can save this much energy by recycling, think of all the energy you save when you:
* Buy less stuff!
* Buy stuff with less packaging!
* Use re-usable items, rather than disposable items!