When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume natural resources. If used materials are not recycled, new products are made by extracting fresh, raw material from the Earth, through mining and forestry.
Recycling helps conserve important raw materials and protects natural habitats for the future.
Using recycled materials in the manufacturing process uses considerably less energy than that required for producing new products from raw materials - even when comparing all associated costs such as transport.
Plus there are extra energy savings because more energy is required to extract, refine, transport and process raw materials ready for industry compared with providing industry-ready materials.
Help to protect the environment
Recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. It also allows us to reduce our reliance on finite natural resources, such as oil (Plastic), and Bauxite (Aluminium).
As recycling saves energy it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change. Current UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18 million tonnes of C02 a year - the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road (Recycle Now).
Reduce Waste to Landfill
When we recycle, recyclable materials are reprocessed into new products, and as a result the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites reduces. There are over 1,500 landfill sites in the UK. Landfill still accounts for the largest single destination for the UK's waste, at 46.1%. Defra announced in 2009 that the UK could run out of landfill capacity by 2020, with many of the sites expected to be full long before then.
The UK was ranked 21 out of 29 European countries for plastic recycling and waste recovery in 2009, behind much of Eastern Europe, including Poland and Estonia (Recoup).