Household recycling ranks #55 on Drawdown’s list of climate solutions. It could eliminate 2.77 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions at a net cost of US$366.9 billion, while producing net savings of $71.1 billion.
Recycling became a popular waste management term starting in the 1960s, and a staple of the environmental movement. According to Drawdown, it’s also now an important tool in the response to climate change, providing a way to put materials back into value chains.
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Waste in urban areas continues to grow, the chapter notes. But when that waste can be recycled into new products, the process often uses less energy, “in addition to reducing resource extraction, minimizing other pollutants, and creating jobs.”
That makes recycling an effective waste management process that can also significantly reduce emissions. It can also boost innovation and growth by encouraging “recycling start-ups”, supporting people’s livelihoods, and reducing the socio-economic and environmental cost of landfills. Many cities already promote residential recycling through incentive programs, or by providing the household bins and facilities necessary to foster regular recycling.
Drawdown says recycling is not without its challenges, and it’s not a completely carbon-free process. Nevertheless, recycling targets are increasing around the world, and the zero waste movement is gaining ground.