is the act of reusing materials in the creation of new products.
we think about recycling as an industrial practice, but recycling
has been a common practice for thousands of years.
not, want not."
The earliest endorsements of recycling go back as far back
as the ancient Greeks. Archeologists have also discovered
evidence of recycling in many other ancient villages and civilizations.
ironically (particularly the two world wars of the last century)
have also increased public awareness of recycling as a patriotic
act to help conserve resources.
modern times, recycling has become an industry in and of itself,
and shaves valuable dollars off of bottom lines in a variety
Today, the most important aim of recycling is to prevent the
waste of raw materials, and all the energy associated with
extracting, refining, and processing them.
In most cases, using recycled materials to create new products has
proven to be cheaper than using raw materials.
Recycling at what cost?
There are many people, however, who criticize recycling, especially government mandated recycling, as being ultimately wasteful.
Critics believe that the energy used to collect, process and
redistribute recycled materials totals more than the energy
used to simply use new materials.
This criticism does not, however, take in to account a number
of different things. Many raw materials, for instance, are
finite, and so even if recycling doesn't make economic sense,
it makes ecological sense. Recycling also keeps landfill size
down, and lessens the destruction of whole ecosystems for
one particular material.
Ultimately, the economic criticisms of recycling are irrelevant,
say some experts, when compared to the ecological reasons
in favor of recycling. Even if recycling made no economic
sense, it would still be an important responsibility to recycle
because the overuse of natural resources has become an increasingly
serious environmental problem.