Missouri Market Development Program: Environmental Benefits of Recycling

The material recovery efforts of Missouri businesses are improving our environment every day and the results are clear: cleaner air and water, less pollution, more forested land and open space, and reduced greenhouse gasses.

Everyone knows recycling means less trash going into our landfills. The greatest environmental benefits of recycling, however, are related not to landfills, but to the conservation of energy and natural resources and the prevention of air pollution when a recycled material, rather than a raw material, is used to make a new product.

For example:

Products made using recovered rather than virgin or raw materials use significantly less energy. Less energy used means less burning of fossil fuels such as: coal, oil, and natural gas. When burned, these fuels release pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, into the air. By decreasing the need to extract and process new raw materials from the earth, recycling can also eliminate the pollution associated with the first two stages of a product’s development: material extraction and processing. Recycling reduces, and in many cases eliminates, these pollutants.

Recycling market development is good for the economy and the environment.

Recycling’s benefits are found at every stage of the life cycle of a consumer product — from mining of raw materials through use and final disposal. By redirecting waste to serve as raw materials for industry, recycling provides a number of important benefits:

  • Reducing pollution and conserving natural resources
  • Saving energy by reducing the need to extract and process virgin raw materials to manufacture new products
  • Reducing greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide
  • Stimulating the development of greener technologies
  • Avoiding the cost of waste disposal in landfills and incinerators