The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as ‘the alteration of our climate as a result of human activity, this changes the composition of the earth’s atmosphere.’ The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) supports initiatives and individual actions that are fighting climate change as we acknowledge International Day of Climate Action which takes place on 24 October.
The effects of climate change include; record high rises in sea levels, unusually high land and ocean temperatures, melting glaciers, droughts and heatwaves. One of the main contributors to climate change and global warming is CO2 emissions, with methane gas being the second largest contributor. Through global platforms like the UN Climate Action Summit and agreements such as the Paris Agreement, nations around the globe have united to combat climate change and its alarming effects, while still encouraging economic growth.
An effective way of helping combat climate change, while enabling economic opportunities, is through recycling. You can play a part in preventing climate change by re-evaluating your household, or office, and identifying areas where we can reduce, reuse, or recycle.
#1 Recycling glass helps conserve our natural resources and reduces processing of raw materials
For every ton of waste glass used to manufacture new glass, an incredible 1.2 tons of natural resources is saved. This means that less CO2 is emitted as 1.2 tonnes of virgin raw material does not need to be quarried, processed and transported prior to being converted into glass packaging. In addition, glass can be infinitely recycled without any decrease in quality of new glass packaging produced.
#2 Recycling glass saves space in landfills
By recycling glass, you help reduce the space being utilised within landfills, which would have been taken up by glass bottles and jars if these were not recycled. Glass is inert and does not release any CO2 but reducing the constant flow of various materials, especially food and other organic waste into landfills, helps to reduce the generation of greenhouse gasses. Methane is an example of a greenhouse gas. There is no causal relationship between glass lying in landfill and greenhouse gasses. In turn this has a positive impact on climate change.
#3 Recycling glass assists in reducing our energy usage
One of the biggest benefits when it comes to recycling glass is the reduced use of energy. When you compare the energy used in the production of glass from raw materials to the use of recycled glass, the melting of cullet (recycled glass that is crushed and melted), you will find that the required energy is considerably less. The less energy used results in a decrease in CO2 emissions.
#4 Recycling glass is simply greener
When comparing the process of making glass from raw materials and the production process of recycling of glass, there is a considerable reduction in terms of the CO2 emissions as well as any potential water pollution. In fact, every ton of new glass bottles and jars made using recycled glass rather than raw materials, prevents the emission of 670kg of CO2. Ultimately, glass recycling dramatically lowers the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, helping to minimise climate change.
#5 Going green and reducing carbon emissions shouldn’t come at the expense of economic growth
Within developing countries such as South Africa, job creation, entrepreneurial development and poverty alleviation are vital elements of assisting the nation to meet its economic goals.
Through recycling, thousands of South Africans earn a source of income from collecting waste glass, and selling this valuable packaging to buy-back centres. There are around 50 000 active glass collectors. Some while reducing the need for more packaging materials, society is still enabling economic opportunities.
If you want to start your own recycling business be sure to visit the TGRC website for more information or to apply for assistance; or if you want to start recycling and find a glass bank where you can drop off your glass visit www.tgrc.co.za or @TGRC on Twitter or find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheGlassRecyclingCo/