Recycling is a process where waste materials, like paper, plastic, metal, and glass, are transformed into new products. Recycling promotes resource efficiency and reduces our dependence on raw materials. When we recycle, we're not just reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, but also decreasing the carbon dioxide emissions that result from extracting and processing raw materials.
Recycled plastic can be used to create new bottles, bags, and even furniture. Plus, Recycling paper and cardboard can save trees and converse energy - in fact, recycling one ton of paper saves around 17 trees.1
The Environmental Benefits of Composting
Composting, on the other hand, specifically pertains to organic waste. Food scraps, yard waste, and compostable materials like paper towels and biodegradable packaging are broken down by microorganisms. This process fosters soil health, improves its ability to hold water, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
Moreover, composting plays an important role in tackling climate change. When organic material decomposes in a landfill, it generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Composting, on the other hand, produces carbon dioxide, which is 25 times less impactful on global warming.2 Check out all of the benefits of composting on our blog.
Can Composting Replace Recycling?
In the composting vs recycling debate, the question often arises: Can composting replace recycling? The short answer is no. These two methods deal with different types of waste materials. Composting is for organic waste, such as food scraps and yard waste, while recycling is mainly for inorganic waste like plastic, metal, and glass.
In fact, composting and recycling should go hand-in-hand, since composting can deal with waste that cannot be recycled. For instance, certain types of food packaging and paper plates, can go into the compost pile instead of the recycling bin. This reduces the contamination of recycled materials and improves the overall efficiency of waste management.
How to Choose the Right Waste Management Method for Your Needs
Choosing between composting and recycling depends largely on the type of waste. If it's organic matter, composting is the way to go. If it's recyclable material, it should be placed in the recycling bin.
However, some items like compostable plastic or biodegradable packaging can pose a challenge. These products are designed to break down in an industrial composting facility, so they might not decompose in a home compost bin. So, it's important to understand local waste management guidelines.
Common Misconceptions About Composting and Recycling
Many misconceptions exist about composting and recycling. One such misconception is that biodegradable plastic is better for the environment. Most biodegradable plastics need specific conditions to break down, and if they end up in a landfill, they can still take hundreds of years to decompose.
Another misconception is that all plastics can be recycled. The truth is, not all plastic waste can be transformed into recycled plastic. Some types, such as plastic bags and certain food packaging, are often not accepted by recycling facilities due to contamination or processing difficulties.
How to Implement Composting and Recycling in Your Community
Implementing composting and recycling in your community starts with education. Organize workshops to teach local residents about waste separation, how to compost at home, and the importance of recycling.
Next, make sure the necessary infrastructure is in place. Compost bins for organic waste and recycling bins for inorganic waste. Try collaborating with local leaders to ensure efficient waste collection and management.
In the case of composting, encourage households to maintain their own compost pile if they have the space. This not only reduces the amount of waste for collection but also provides them with nutrient-rich compost for their gardens. For those who can't, communal composting is a great option.
For recycling, promote the correct way to recycle. For instance, food containers should be rinsed before being placed in the recycling bin, as food residue can contaminate other recyclable materials.
In terms of compostable plastics and packaging, it's important to talk to a local industrial composting facility. These facilities have the capacity to break down compostable items that may not decompose properly in home compost systems.
Finally, encourage sustainable practices like using compostable or recyclable materials and reducing the use of single-use plastics. Push local businesses to use sustainable packaging and support companies that prioritize eco-friendly practices.
Eco-Friendly Waste Management at Home
Composting and recycling both offer solutions to the increasing amount of waste we produce. They are not competing practices, but complementary strategies in our pursuit of zero waste and a sustainable future. By understanding and correctly implementing these methods, we can significantly reduce waste, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and make our communities more sustainable. Remember, every piece of waste that's correctly managed is a step towards a healthier planet.
At Reel, we’re on a mission to create a more sustainable future by embracing eco-friendly alternatives to traditional paper products. Our lineup includes bamboo toilet paper, recycled paper towels, and other sustainable paper products. Not only are these items biodegradable and eco-friendly, but they also offer a luxurious softness and exceptional durability. Say goodbye to traditional paper towels and toilet paper.
- Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. As a Matter of Fact...https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Reduce-Reuse-Recycle/Municipal-Recycling-Resource-Center/As-A-Matter-of-Fact
- EPA. Importance of Methane. https://www.epa.gov/gmi/importance-methane