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Chemical Engineering: The Advantages of Recycling for the Environment - Essay Example

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Chemical Engineering: The Advantages of Recycling for the Environment Your Name University Schools Number and Name of Course (e.g., May 31, 2012) Chemical Engineering: The Advantages of Recycling for the Environment The earth’s natural resources are being consumed at such a fast rate that it is estimated by the Global Footprint Network that 1.5 earths will be needed to keep up with the current pace of consumption of these resources (Christian, 2011)…
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Chemical Engineering: The Advantages of Recycling for the Environment
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Download file to see previous pages Almost every waste material can be recycled to manufacture a new product. By recycling, a safer environment can be ensured for the future generations. Recycling helps protect the environment in three important ways: pollution reduction, energy saving and conservation of natural resources. Decreasing the amount of pollutants is one of the most significant benefits of recycling. Recycling waste materials rather than extracting raw materials from earth needs lesser energy, as it reduces the amount of energy used by industries during the manufacturing process. It also minimizes the emission of greenhouse gases that are responsible for global climate change and natural disasters. As the extraction process of raw materials is eliminated upon recycling of waste materials, there is lesser need of energy, which is obtained by burning fossil fuels such as diesel, coal and gasoline, the most common sources of greenhouse gases and carbon emissions in the environment. Le Page (2011) states that studies of earth’s past climate show that when the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) (a greenhouse gas) increases, the earth gets hotter and warmer. Infrared radiation reaching the earth is trapped by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and is prevented from escaping back into space. This results in global warming, which further causes unnatural climate changes that lead to floods, droughts, hurricanes and other natural disasters. When waste materials such as plastics and metals are disposed off or incinerated, harmful chemicals and poisonous gases are released into the surroundings. Mining and other processes for the extraction of raw materials result in land and water pollution apart from causing damage to wildlife. In addition, the chemicals used during extraction of raw materials and manufacturing of products cause water pollution. Therefore, recycling of waste materials rather than manufacturing using new raw materials helps in reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, apart from decreasing air and water pollution. The second advantage of recycling for the environment is the conservation of energy. Using recycled materials instead of raw materials for manufacturing a product consumes lesser energy. When a product is manufactured from raw materials, energy is expended not only during the manufacturing process but also during the extraction of the raw materials. Firstly, virgin raw materials are extracted from their source and then transported to the manufacturing plants. Large amounts of energy is consumed during the extraction and transportation of these virgin materials. Whereas when products are manufactured using recycled waste materials, the waste materials only need to be broken down into their basic components. Thus in case of recycling waste materials, the extraction step is eliminated but still some amount of energy is required for processing them into useful raw material. This energy is however lesser than what is required during extraction from virgin material. Studies by the Stanford University Recycling Center have shown that 5,774 kilowatt-hours of electric energy is conserved when 2,240 pounds of plastic are recycled (Brennan, n.d.). In other words, manufacturing from ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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