Recycling: Is it really worth the effort?
- Do we actually know that recycling is good for the environment?
- Do we have scientific evidence that supports our well-meaning actions saving energy to preserve natural resources and curb greenhouse gases?
- Are we just guessing that ‘reducing landfill waste’ equates to ‘saving the planet’? And is it worth an additional cost to the consumer for recycling infrastructure to produce viable and beneficial products?
- There can be no doubting recycling is fast becoming an important part of daily life in most countries around the world.
- Research shows each week 1% families and businesses in Australia and New Zealand are changing to basic home recycling habits.
Federal and State Government agencies have been forced to insist on waste minimization, They have become a keen advocate of recycling in the context of economic and Environmental sustainability. After all is said and done, Governments are the people’s representatives and finally we are listening to our environmental and climate scientists.
At ground zero, people generally have access to Council drop off facilities where most kinds of waste is accepted at a minimal price, some is recycled, regrettably the majority of waste is still moved to landfill sites. Local Governments have needed to take account of the ever increasing financial burden of waste management centres, kerbside junk collections, not surprisingly they have started imposing restrictions or outsource the business of picking up your old TV's Computers and other types of electronic waste. In the not to distant future householders and businesses will bear costs of managing all their large waste items. Recycling centres minimized to accept these items at a cost via carbon trading credits will become a way life, (time line estimated to be 10-20 years) indeed this concept has started here and in a more advanced way in the UK and Europe albeit in basic rudimentary styles. These are the forerunners of far more sophisticated minimized centres.
Enter Planet Green Recycling in Sydney's North Suburbs rapidly expanding business districts.
The Scientific Studies
People can be reassured that recycling is an appropriate environmental solution, thanks to two recently completed Australian scientific studies: The first, Life Cycle Assessment for Paper and Packaging Waste Management In Victoria, is a Melbourne-based research project carried out by a group of universities to fully investigate the environmental benefit (and detriment) of recycling versus waste to landfill. This study was primarily sponsored by EcoRecycle Victoria.
The second is an Australia-wide study, commissioned by the National Packaging Covenant Council (NPCC), entitled Independent Assessment of Kerbside Recycling in Australia. The most comprehensive study of recycling undertaken in Australia, this report measures the financial, environmental and social impacts of recycling, translating the environmental impacts into dollars to compare costs and benefits.
Each of the above studies used the latest internationally respected methodological insights to analyse and compare the impacts of recycling to simply dumping waste into landfill.
Now we know that recycling is environmentally sound, just how is it creating such great benefits?
Exploring some Urban Myths
Now we have the scientific data, let’s address some common misconceptions about recycling and its effects on the environment and community.
In Summary: Our future generations deserve a better deal from us!
Keep on Recycling and Reusing!
The best way to preserve natural resources, reduce air pollution, save energy and cut greenhouse gasses is to avoid creating waste in the first place.
Reduce the amount of waste you generate.
Reuse products wherever possible.
Recycle unwanted materials.
What is a Green Certificate?
A Green Certificate, also known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), is a tradable commodity proving that certain electricity is generated using renewable energy sources. Typically one certificate represents generation of 1 Megawatt hour of electricity. What is defined as "renewable" varies from certificate trading scheme to trading scheme. Usually, at least following sources are considered as renewable:
- Wind (often further divided into onshore and offshore)
- Solar (often further divided into photovoltaic and thermal)
- Wave (often further divided into onshore and offshore) and tidal (often further divided into onshore and offshore)
- Hydro (often further divided into small - microhydro - and large)
- Biomass (mainly biofuels, often further divided by actual fuel used).
Here in Australia as at July 2009 our Policians and advisors - otherwise known as "red tapers" - are still arguing the point over Carbon Trading details and Kyoto protocols whilst most all European countries are acting with environmentally responsible trading schemes as shown below. We hope eventually when Australia can agree on a suitable scheme recycling of old technology will attract carbon credits as a renewable energy source.
Green certificates represent the environmental value of renewable energy generated. The certificates can be traded separately from the energy produced. Several countries use green certificates as mean to make the support of green electricity generation closer to market economy instead of more bureaucratic investment support and feed-in tariffs. Such national trading schemes are in use in e.g. Poland, Sweden, the UK, Italy, Belgium (Wallonia and Flanders), and some US states.
Renewable energy certificates (RECs), also known as green certificates, green tags, or tradable renewable certificates, represent the environmental attributes of the power produced from renewable energy projects and are sold separate from commodity electricity. Customers can buy green certificates whether or not they have access to green power through their local utility or a competitive electricity marketer. And they can purchase green certificates without having to switch electricity suppliers.