Advantages and disadvantages of recycling

recycling waste plant

This article takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of recycling.

What is recycling

To obtain a new product from another waste, or to transform a product that has exhausted its life to obtain another type of material, is what is defined as recycling.

Recycling can occur through several options.


It consists of recovering the product itself to give it a new use. For example, the reuse of office computer equipment, obsolete in terms of benefits, for teaching work.

In general, reuse is the form that produces the least impact on the environment.

Repair and restoration

They imply a reconditioning and improvements in the quality of the product. In principle, the repair supposes a smaller effort than the restoration. It is also possible to recover certain components to be incorporated into other products. This process has the name of cannibalization. An example of cannibalization can be the recovery of auto parts in a scrapyard.



The reuse of materials is commonly called recycling, that is, the recovery of materials to be used again as a raw material in a new manufacturing process.

Energy Recovery

This alternative consists of extracting, by combustion, the energy content of certain parts of a product.



Really the spill does not suppose a valid alternative of recycling. It could mean the last resort available for the elimination of end-of-life products. It involves making the product available in a legally controlled landfill. 

This option is only valid when the product, its parts or its components cannot be reconditioned in any way. It can be the cause of low quality, legal implications, environmental restrictions or technical-economic infeasibility.

How can you recycle

In the beginning, recycling comes from the manufacture of the product, a design suitable for recycling is essential for a new product.

The fact of including non-polluting elements, recyclable materials, as well as new more organic products (such as the electric car) presents the first alternative, the starting point of recycling.


For an adequate recycling, an environmental design is fundamental for companies that understand:

The simplification and standardization of materials

Aspects such as the reduction of the volume of materials used, the reduction in the variety and the reduction of materials with alloys and compositions that cause difficulties when recycling (for example plastic and aluminum).

The due recognition of the materials

The materials must be easily recognizable and easily classified for the subsequent recycling process. There are products in which the only feasible way for this is the marking of the pieces with identification codes.

The ease of disassembly

Many manufacturing-oriented technologies do not meet this requirement and increasingly produce types of connections between components of a team that are not removable. Recycling considerations are oriented in the opposite direction.

In addition to the points discussed, we could add the need for a strong spare parts market and greater standardization of the components of a team.

Advantages  of recycling

Preserves natural resources

Undoubtedly, one of the most important advantages of recycling is the preservation of natural resources . For example, recycling paper avoids a good amount of unnecessary felling and also the contamination of large amounts of water that involves the manufacture of paper, and the same happens with the recycling of other products made with our natural resources.

When recycling, the products are reused, so it is not necessary to remove the raw material from nature, but we can extend the useful life of that which has already been extracted.

Less contamination

Have you stopped to think about the amount of bags, plastics, wrappers, boxes and waste that you create in your day to day? Every year dozens of tons of plastics end up in the oceans, destroying the marine habitat and the health of our planet. Something as simple as recycling can prevent this from happening and that all the plastic waste that we create can have a second life and not end up floating on our coasts. Without a doubt, this is another of the great benefits of recycling.

Save oil

We must bear in mind that oil is the main material through which plastic is manufactured, so one of the main benefits of recycling is the saving of a non-renewable resource that is becoming scarcer every day. Through recycling we can save thousands of tons of oil per year, one of the first steps for a global change in which the consumption of fossil fuels is banished once and for all.

Decrease waste products

The main problem with non-biodegradable products is that they take a long time to decompose. Recycling reduces the level of waste products and, therefore, there will be less harmful elements in nature and their invariable contamination.

Save money

Among the benefits of recycling can also be mentioned a saving of money. This is because there are companies that buy recycled garbage.

You can sell plastic or glass bottles, old appliances and many things that are left over in your home, for which they can give you money.

Preserves the environment

Cutting trees to generate paper has a very negative effect on the atmosphere . By recycling paper, the indiscriminate felling of trees is reduced and the environment is preserved, especially for future generations.

Immediately recycling paper will favor the air we breathe, reduce flooding and provide more raw materials and food.

Conserve energy

The processing of raw materials from nature requires more energy than when materials are recycled. One of the aspects in which it can be observed, is that recycling does not require transporting large quantities of materials from great distances. This implies a lower use of vehicles and, consequently, a lower expenditure of hydrocarbons.

Reduces global warming and pollution

Recycling by companies reduces the emission of gases that produce the greenhouse effect. As a result, this leads to a decrease in the use of fossil fuels that are also responsible for the level of these polluting gases.

Leaving aside the spill, since this option is the least bad within what it would not recycle. The fact of being able to reuse, either as raw material, energy or the product itself, makes the storage in these landfills lessen. This also has as a secondary effect a better management of materials housed in landfills, as they are not overwhelmed.


Well, we cannot overlook the environmental impact of waste. In this aspect, recycling contributes positively, avoiding the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming through energy savings. It also prevents the disappearance of both animal and plant species by the pollutant discharges into the waters.

Following the environmental thread, which is an extremely important advantage when talking about recycling, we can not ignore the energy advantage of extracting raw materials to build new materials. The saving, both of raw materials , and of the energy necessary for its extraction and transformation is one of the main advantages of recycling.

The economic savings of being able to reuse the same material, although in all cases recycling is not economically viable due to technical factors, generally the fact of acquiring components for a team , which have reached the end of their useful life, can give a lot more of itself


Disadvantages of recycling

More than disadvantages themselves, recycling presents a series of inconveniences or impediments, so to speak. We could quote the following:

It’s not profitable

The economic benefit is the only thing that seems to boost human activity, and the fact that recycling does not generate too much profit does not help to promote its importance. If we assume that the cost of placing all the garbage in a landfill costs a maximum of 50 per ton, the recycling is just over 150. At least this is what happens nowadays. There is always the possibility of varying these costs, with innovative methods.

It can generate low quality jobs

Activities such as classifying garbage, eliminating toxins and carrying out manual work can be very poorly paid jobs.

Some studies establish that they can produce a very poor quality of life in a community, which will be overwhelmed by a low moral.

It does not guarantee quality products

The fact of taking non-biodegradable materials to produce new products, calls into question the quality of the resulting product, at least according to  certain experts, even in some cases, there are those who dare to say that such quality may have negative consequences in terms of safety .


It can cause contamination

If you do not know how to separate the waste very well instead of helping protect the environment, we will contaminate it more.There are chemical products, harmful that can be mixed in the water and in the soil. Electronic waste has a very high level of lead that can cause contamination in the blood, diseases in the skin, respiratory tract, stomach and other organs.So to separate the organic matter from the inorganic to be able to recycle and help improve our environment.

  • The limitations of the reuse of certain types of products, its application is difficult in a generalized way. Largely because of their rapid obsolescence.
  • The recycling of materials produces a certain loss due to the mixture of the same or the degradation of their properties. This makes it difficult to create a recycling market.
  • There is a belief that recycled materials are of lower quality than non-recycled ones.
  • The recovery of energy is not highly recommended since, in fact, the source of raw materials offered by waste is not optimally used. Some recycling processes release polluting waste.
  • The combustion process in energy recovery causes a new source of polluting emissions. It must be an activity with a series of strong controls.
  • The growing requirements, legal difficulties and costs of landfills for the dumping of products.


In itself, it can be observed that the difficulties are rather of a technical or economic nature that makes the processes difficult. In short, we could cite recycling as something truly positive and much more when all these problems come to be overcome, either through new legislation or through aid with public office.


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