World Recycling Day: Our actions have an impact on the planet

World Recycling Day is commemorated on May 17. It is a timely occasion to reflect on the importance of preserving our environment and promoting sustainable practices. In a world where consumption and waste production are reaching alarming levels, this commemoration takes on an even more relevant meaning.

 

Reduce, reuse and recycle

The objective of World Recycling Day is to raise awareness among the population about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling the materials we use in our daily lives. It also seeks to encourage a change of attitude and promote the adoption of responsible habits that help minimize the environmental impact of our actions.

However, recycling goes beyond separating waste into specific containers. It is a process that involves a whole chain, from selective collection to treatment and transformation of recyclable materials into new products. In addition, it is necessary to promote a circular economy, where resources are used efficiently and waste generation is minimized.

On this World Recycling Day, it is important to remember that every small action counts and has a big impact on the world around us. Although there are many tasks we can carry out, this time we want to focus on recycling two types of materials that can be fully reused: aluminum and glass.

 

Aluminum recycling

Commonly used in soda cans, aluminum is one of the most effective materials when it comes to getting the most out of it. Among its benefits, it can be recycled over and over again without losing quality, according to the International Aluminum Institute (IAI), the body representing the primary aluminum industry worldwide.

Aluminum cans can be reconverted and returned to the shelves in only 60 days, according to the Sampa Recycle Movement, an initiative of the domestic and sanitary waste collection concessionaires of São Paulo (Brazil).

As this source indicates, for every kilo of recycled can, five kilos of bauxite, the mineral used to produce aluminum, are saved, in addition to contributing to reducing energy and water consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the IAI, almost 75% of the 1.5 billion tons of aluminum ever produced is still in use today. And more than 30 million tons of aluminum scrap are recycled worldwide each year, ensuring its status as one of the most recycled materials on the planet.

In Latin America, Brazil is at the forefront in this regard, since, according to Agencia Brasil in 2022, the recycling rate of aluminum cans reached 99%. In that country, between 2019 and 2021, the recycling of cans enabled a 70% reduction in energy consumption, a 65% reduction in water consumption and a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Glass recycling

Glass is a popular material in the world and can be found in different objects. Among them, in food and beverage containers. Made basically from sand and limestone, it is one of the simplest and most efficient materials to recycle and does not lose quality when doing so, emphasizes Recicla Sampa.

It is a product that can be melted and reformed on an infinite number of occasions, as pointed out in a document published on the website of the International Year of Water, promoted by the United Nations (UN).

This is especially favorable when compared to plastic, for example. As National Geographic points out, such material can typically only be recycled once or twice and often becomes something that does not have to transport food or meet stringent strength requirements, such as lightweight household items, as the polymers break down in the recycling process.

To those benefits, the EPA adds that making new glass from recycled glass is often cheaper than using virgin raw materials.

The container glass industry is therefore a good example of the circular economy in action.

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