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Since the industrial age began more than a century ago, human beings have been utilizing natural and manmade resources to create consumer goods. While these products continue to make life easier for billions around the around, they also create massive amounts of waste. Additionally, the manufacturing processes pollute the environment while often being wasteful. Consequently, some finite resources such as freshwater and minerals have become scarce while the planet undergoes global warming due to greenhouse gases. Recycling should be mandatory because of the need to preserve natural resources, reduce environmental degradation, reverse wasteful human consumerism, and reduce industrial production costs.
Why recycling should be mandatory
Making recycling mandatory would reverse the effects that the industrial age has caused on the environment. Since the mid-1800s, when Europe began exploiting natural and manmade resources, natural resources such as minerals, freshwater bodies, forest cover, air, and topsoil have deteriorated significantly. Consequently, the temperatures of the planet have been on an upward trend due to the greenhouse effect of transport and large-scale agriculture, both meant to support the industrial age (Ayodele et al., 2018). Recycling water would reduce the strain or urbanization and industrial activity on the freshwater bodies. It would also significantly reduce the number of pollutants getting into the soil and air and reverse the ongoing environmental degradation.
Recycling could also enable many industries to reduce their reliance on natural resources reducing the effects of industrial and urban activities on the environment. Items such as paper, metals, particular wood, and plastic materials could be recycled, reducing the need to manufacture more from naturally occurring raw materials. If governments made recycling of these essential materials mandatory, the strain the various industrial processes associated with the food, office stationery, and clothing industries has on the environment would reduce significantly (Hillman et al., 2015). Additionally, such reductions in the strain caused by these items would potentially enable various natural resources such as forests and freshwater bodies to recover.
One crucial benefit of making recycling mandatory is that it would introduce controls to the wanton human consumerism witnessed since the early years of the industrial era. Many human beings have accepted that as part of the urban community, they must purchase items necessary in their houses, and dump leftovers as waste. Such wasteful behaviour has resulted in vast amounts of waste in and around urban areas (Unger et al., 2017). Large portions of this waste are recyclable because it includes paper, metals, plastics, electronic components, clothing, and even food products. Making recycling mandatory would reduce the increasing amount of waste associated with urbanization and invalidate human consumerism attitudes. Some of these waste materials can also complement energy production initiatives in large urban areas as fuel. Innovations in the recycling process have created fuels that perform quite well.
Many industries have realized that recycling reduces some of the high costs of production associated with their processes. The food, automotive, transport, mining, fashion, and military equipment industries rely on various natural and manmade raw materials (Wadehra & Mishra, 2018). As these resources get depleted, their costs of purchase increase, making production expensive. However, industrial processes that rely on recurrent raw materials such as freshwater, plastics, paint, lubricants, metal, paper, and clothing material can significantly reduce production costs by recycling these resources. Furthermore, lower costs of production translate to lower purchase prices of the end-products benefiting both the sellers and consumers. Therefore, making recycling mandatory has a significant economic impact on several core industries whose production processes rely on recurrent resources, and the final products become cheaper for consumers.
Making recycling mandatory is the right way of creating new jobs because recycling is currently an industry. Although recycling was nothing more than a trend among frugal companies in competitive industries a few decades ago, it has grown to become an entire industry that creates millions of jobs globally. The industry incorporates the waste collection and processing companies targeting urban regions, and specialized recycling companies focused on poisonous and volatile industrial compounds and even global consultants who advise multinationals and governments (Wadehra & Mishra, 2018). If more governments embraced the recycling practice and invested training and financial resources into the same, the industry continues creating many jobs in the future. Therefore, the government must consider making recycling mandatory to empower the industry’s job creation and sustainability capacities.
The industrial Revolution has created several severe problems for the planet’s inhabitants over the last 150 years. Some of these problems, such as pollution, shortage of resources, high production costs, wanton consumerism, and waste can be solved through recycling. If governments made recycling mandatory, they would optimize the current efforts at reversing natural degradation and pollution. Recycling would also reduce production costs in many core industries such as food and transport, while preserving the natural resources left. The initiative might also do millions of jobs as recycling has become an industry complete with investors and consultants who advise governments and multinationals. Unfortunately, the bureaucracy associated with introducing such radical change to lucrative industries such as mining might further reduce the small window left before humanity loses the ability to save the planet.
Ayodele, T., Alao, M., & Ogunjuyigbe, A. (2018). undefined. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 134, 165-173. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.03.017
Hillman, K., Damgaard, A., Eriksson, O., Jonsson, D., & Fluck, L. (2015). Climate benefits of material recycling. https://doi.org/10.6027/tn2015-547
Unger, N., Beigl, P., Höggerl, G., & Salhofer, S. (2017). The greenhouse gas benefit of recycling waste electrical and electronic equipment above the legal minimum requirement: An Austrian LCA case study. Journal of Cleaner Production, 164, 1635-1644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.225
Wadehra, S., & Mishra, A. (2018). Encouraging urban households to segregate the waste they generate: Insights from a field experiment in Delhi, India. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 134, 239-247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2018.03.013