The benefits of recycling

UK Home Improvement

The Benefits of Recycling

In the UK, around 44% of household waste was recycled in 2020. The government has set a target to recycle a minimum of 65% of all household waste by 2035. But what is recycling, and why is it so important? In this article we’ll go through some of the main benefits of recycling, and a bit more about what is involved in the process.

What Is Recycling?

Recycling involves collecting and processing waste, and using it to make new materials or products, rather than just throwing something away and leaving it to break down in landfill over potentially millions of years. Recycling aims to create a circular process where things are made, purchased and then collected again to be made into new materials in a continuous cycle.

Why Recycle?

There is an increasing focus on the amount of waste we recycle, government targets for household recycling are ambitious but there are many reasons it makes sense, including (but not limited to):

Reducing Pollution

Probably the most high-profile benefits of recycling are those related to reducing pollution. Waste that is incinerated or put into landfill contributes towards damaging pollution in the environment. By recycling as much waste as possible, we can reduce these levels of pollution, and also reduce pollution when manufacturing new materials.

Lowering Costs And Saving Energy

Using recycled materials to make new materials and products can help to lower manufacturing costs. Much less energy is needed when using recycled materials in manufacturing. For example, using recycled rather than raw materials to make an aluminium can saves up to 95% of the energy required in the manufacturing process.

Green Credentials

It’s becoming increasingly popular to be eco-friendly, perhaps even cool. Social media movements have sprung up around living in as green a way as possible. Companies who can demonstrate they are fulfilling their environmental responsibilities are able to market themselves as ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘green’. This is seen as desirable and consumers are beginning to sway towards making purchases based on their environmental impact.

Advantages of Recycling

One important advantage of recycling is that it reduces the amount of waste that needs to be sent to an incinerator or to landfill. Let’s look at some of the main advantages of recycling.

Environmental Benefits of Recycling

Incinerating waste and piling up rubbish in landfill releases carbon dioxide and other harmful gases into the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. By recycling more of our waste materials, we can reduce these emissions. Recycling also helps to protect animal habitats and maintain biodiversity in the ecosystem. Recycling paper and wood for example, means fewer trees are cut down and fewer habitats are lost.

Conserving Natural Resources

Recycling helps to conserve natural resources, as it means materials can be reused rather than needing to continually source new ones. There are a finite number of natural resources available, and the more we can reuse the less we need to destroy the environment. Recycling metals for example, means we reduce the number of raw materials required from mining and extraction, by using metal that is already available.

Promoting The Use Of Greener Technology

As recycling rates rise, so does interest in greener technologies, such as solar, wind and geothermal power. This helps to reduce pollution and conserve energy, as well as protecting finite natural resources that have traditionally been used to generate energy. The demand for alternative sources of energy has also increased the career opportunities and the overall number of jobs available in the industry.

Steps To Recycling Materials

The three arrows symbol for recycling represents the three steps involved in recycling materials, these steps form a continuous process in a loop.

Collection And Processing

Waste is collected for recycling, either through curbside collections, from designated drop off areas and bins, or via recycling schemes that encourage people to return recyclable packaging for a financial incentive. The waste is then sorted and separated at a recovery facility, where it is processed and turned into usable recycled materials.


The usable materials enter into the manufacturing process, where they can be made into new products or packaging.

Purchasing Products Made From Recycled Materials

The recycling loop is made continuous when people purchase new products that have been made from recycled materials. By making a conscious decision to buy things that have recyclable packaging, and items that can be fully recycled, the consumer helps to sustain the process, feeding more materials back in to be recycled again.

The positive impact we can have on the environment by recycling as much of our waste as possible cannot be ignored. If we are to meet government targets then recycling needs to continue to increase nationally.

You can find out more about recycling in our useful articles, including types of recycling, and our guide to disposing of electronic devices.


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