Lets take a look at a plastic pop bottle for example and start at the beginning of the recycle chain.
The bottle is prepared for the recycle bin:
First the plastic bottle is washed, usually in the kitchen sink with running tap water - Water is wasted - Electricity is consumed to drive the pumps that supply the water to your home. Electricity is often produced by burning either oil, gas or coal. These resources require mining, drilling machines, haulage etc. These machines are built from... (A bit like the old woman who swallowed a fly isn't it?)
a) The pop bottle is then placed in a plastic recycle bin:
Factories with special tools and machines to manufacture the bins are needed - Factories and tools require steel and other minerals to be mined to construct them. A huge amount of electricity is needed to run the manufacturing machines in the factories. Dangerous chemicals are used in the process of manufacturing the plastic recycle bins, not to mention pollution and hazardous waste the factories produce.
b) The plastic bottle is taken to a recycle machine that crushes the bottle. Once again factories are built to manufacture the machines....(here we go again). Raw materials used in the process of creating the can and plastic bottle crushing machines include steel, plastics, lead, copper, paper, ink, computer boards and chips (The number of toxic materials needed to make silicon chips include - highly corrosive hydrochloric acid, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and volatile solvents like methyl chloroform, benzene, acetone, trichloroethane, and a number of super toxic gases. Electricity is consumed to power these recycle machines.
A special recycle truck picks up your recycle bin or collects the bottles from the depositing points:
Special trucks are need to collect the recyclable waste. More raw materials including steel, copper, rubber, paints, and plastics are used to build the trucks. The trucks need oils, grease, coolants and fuel to run (these all have to be mined), not to mention the extra pollutants put out by exhaust fumes from the extra trucks on the road, (It has been said that diesel exhaust fumes are one of the top two most carcinogenic substances known to man.)
The trucks deliver the recyclable material to a sorting factory:
Factories and machines are built to sort the various recyclable materials from each other, paper, plastics, glass, metals etc. Specially made separating, crushing and chipping machines (these all have to be purposely built for the job) process the recyclable waste to more manageable and usable sizes ready for transport and sale to factories.
The raw recyclable materials are transported to goods manufacturing factories:
The material is transported via trucks (more trucks on the road), trains, ships etc. (all requiring more resources to be built and to operate) to various factories that produce new goods from the materials. The goods are shipped to shops and ware houses to be sold and once their service life is over the chain starts again.
Recycling will not save trees because we are now replanting at least as many trees as we cut down.
But don't we also recycle because of a shortage of landfill areas?
It has been calculated that a thousand years of garbage would only fill an area 35 miles square by 100 yards deep.
Practically all recycling programs run at a loss.
You should practise:
Re-using as many items as possible. Avoid purchasing or using throwaway or disposable products like paper plates and disposable razors, instead buy products that can be used over and over again. Try re-using plastic bags as garbage bin liners etc. Coffee tins, margarine containers and glass jars have all sorts of practical storage container uses.