What is the process of reusing non-biodegradable material? (9 applications of recycling) 

This article will explain recycling which is the reusing of non-biodegradable waste. Other covered topics of the article will include: 

  • What is recycling?
  • What is the relation between recycling and non-biodegradable waste?
  • What are the implications caused by non-biodegradable waste?
  • What is biodegradation?
  • What is non-biodegradable waste?
  • FAQs

What is the process of reusing non-biodegradable material?

The process in which non-biodegradable waste or material is reused is termed recycling. It is regarded as one of the solutions to deal with non-biodegradable waste. 

Biodegradation is the breakdown of waste into simpler materials so that it can be used again by nature. If there is no biodegradation, there will be waste accumulation and generation in mass amounts. 

Recycling leads to a number of benefits such as better waste and resource management, lesser pollution, decreased carbon footprint, and increased employment opportunities. 

What is recycling? (9 benefits) 

Recycling can be defined as the reusing of consumer products by working on them. The process and inclination of recycling come along with a plethora of benefits and edges. 

The biggest advantage that recycling offers is the fact that recycling leads to the reuse of products. In this way, the products do not need to be made from scratch. 

This leads to better energy management. It has been seen that with the rising industrialisation and commercialisation, there are seen negative impacts of consumer products on the environment and life in general. 

Recycling can effectively curb these effects and mitigate them as much as possible. This is because every consumer product will have some lasting and drastic effect whatsoever. Therefore, it is incumbent that those effects may be buffered and countered as much as possible.

There are a number of materials that can be recycled. These include plastics, paper, glass materials, metals et cetera. All these materials can be recycled and therefore, it is important that these materials must be dealt with that way. 

One major obstruction that impedes the benefits offered by recycling is the fact that either people are unaware or are unwilling to undergo the process of recycling. 

It is because of this that the recycling rate in developed countries such as the US is less than one-third. What this means is that two-thirds of the consumer products that could be recycled end up in landfills which may contribute to environmental problems. 

The common benefits that are achieved by the process of recycling can be summarised in the following key points. Further details will be given in the next sections of the blog post. 

  • Better resource management
  • Better waste management 
  • One of the best solutions to non-biodegradable waste
  • Water conservation
  • Decreased pressure on raw materials
  • Decreased consumption of energy (which is mostly non-renewable) 
  • Increased labour and employment prospects 
  • Reduced pollution and environmental anomalies
  • Decreased pressure on waste management systems 

What is the relation between recycling and non-biodegradable products?

Recycling is regarded as one of the best solutions to the alleviation of problems caused by the occurrence of non-biodegradable waste. This section will give some examples to explain its stance. 

Plastics are synthetic polymers that are known to cause many problems and environmental challenges. One of the biggest challenges caused by plastics is the fact that plastics are not degradable under natural conditions. 

It is argued that plastics may remain in the environment for many hundred years. Some even say that some plastics such as LDPE or HDPE may remain for up to a thousand years. 

The problem is not just with the fact that plastics may remain for a long time. There are other complications that are associated while plastics remaining in the environment. 

Plastics may degrade into microplastics. These microplastics can be engulfed by marine, aquatic and land animals leading to choking and even death. There are countless known medical complications that arise from the occurrence of plastic waste. 

These may include hormone disruption, cancer, neuro complications, developmental issues, neurotoxicity, change in behaviours, infertility, autism, psychological issues, damage to the foetus, skin complications, and lung dysfunctions. 

By the process of recycling, the negative impacts of non-biodegradable waste can at least be delayed because when non-biodegradable waste is recycled it will not end up in landfills rather it will be reused. This may not be a permanent solution but the best among the least we got so far. 

What are the implications of non-biodegradable waste?

This section will cover the impacts and effects rendered by non-biodegradable waste. This will also plead for the case of importance and urgency of biodegradable waste. 

The biggest harm that is caused by non-biodegradable waste is the fact that it adds to waste generation and waste accumulation. When waste is accumulated and generated in excess amounts, it leads to the decapacitation of waste management systems.

If we are not able to properly manage and segregate waste, then their impacts will be translated and reciprocated in every aspect, domain, and level of life and the environment. 

This is mainly because the waste will cause pollution and environmental degradation. The effects of waste on animals and humans can also not be ignored. 

To further assert this, consider the case of non-biodegradable plastics. Plastic waste is regarded as non-biodegradable. Even though there are many measures taken to ensure that plastic waste is either reused or disposed of properly; regardless of it, plastic waste affects more than 700 species on land. 

Now imagine what will happen if those preventive measures fail. The whole world will be faced with an irreversible catastrophe. The accumulated waste will make the whole Earth a huge dustbin. 

Another major impact that is caused and rendered by non-biodegradable waste is the emissions of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ethylene, SOx, and NOx are responsible for a plethora of environmental anomalies. 

When non-biodegradable waste is produced and processed, there is the usage of non-renewable resources and products from fossil fuels. This leads to the burning of fossil fuels that adds GHGs to the environment. 

The most catastrophic effect rendered by the GHGs is the phenomenon of global warming. Global warming leads to another set of various environmental problems such as:

  • Melting of glaciers
  • Rising sea levels
  • Increased global temperatures
  • Unforeseen weather patterns
  • Floods
  • Droughts
  • Deforestation
  • Pollution
  • Disruption of ecosystems
  • Destruction of habitats
  • Loss of life
  • Endangerment of species 
  • Infiltrations into the food chains 
  • Degradation of air quality
  • Smog 
  • Acid rains 
  • Acidification of water bodies
  • Damage to crops
  • Infertility of soil
  • Waste wastage 

The effects of non-biodegradable waste, such as chemical waste, are not just limited to animal species and the environment. Humans are also directly and immensely impacted by the occurrence of non-biodegradable waste. 

Non-biodegradable waste is responsible for a plethora of human-related problems and diseases. Some of them can be mentioned as an example:

  • Cancer
  • Neuro complications
  • Neuro toxicity 
  • Developmental issues
  • Hormone disruption
  • Damage to children
  • Lung cancer 
  • Skin problems 
  • Nephrological complications 
  • Autism
  • Infertility 
  • Behavioural problems 

What are biodegradation and non-biodegradable waste?

Biodegradability can be defined as a process in which biological agents such as enzymes and microbes break down complex waste into simpler structures. The simpler structures are thus able to get back to the system. 

Every day you come across the process of biodegradation. The rotten vegetables that you dispose of or the spoiled fruits that you think can not be eaten. These are standard, everyday examples of biodegradation. 

It is the very process of biodegradation that is responsible for the spoilage of food. It can be termed the necessary evil because on one side food is spoiled but on the other side, it is ensured that there is no waste accumulation. 

If there is waste accumulation, there will be environmental problems and anomalies because the waste will lead to problems such as pollution and human diseases. 

Other than microbes and enzymes, there are also external factors that play a key role in the process of biodegradation. These include:

  • Sunlight 
  • Temperature
  • Aeration
  • Presence or absence of oxygen 
  • Type of microbes

Based on biodegradability, waste may be divided into two categories. These are 

  • Biodegradable waste
  • Non-biodegradable waste 

It is commonly perceived that biodegradable waste is mostly sourced from natural materials. Common examples of biodegradable waste include: 

  • Plant waste
  • Animal waste
  • Manure
  • Natural fibres
  • Natural fabrics

As per non-biodegradable waste, it is mostly sourced from synthetic products and chemicals. The biggest factor that drives the inclination towards non-biodegradability is the use of fossil fuel derivatives. 

This renders the microbes and enzymes to not degrade such waste. As a result, non-biodegradable waste may remain in the system or landfills for many years. It can be 20 years to a thousand years. 

Examples of non-biodegradable waste include: 

  • Synthetic polymers
  • Synthetic fibres
  • Hazardous waste
  • Chemical waste 
  • Nuclear waste 
  • Electronic waste 

It is argued that the impacts and implications that stem from non-biodegradable waste are far more concerning compared. Therefore, it is preferred that the effects of non-biodegradable waste on the environment and life be mitigated. Recycling is one effective approach toward it. 

Conclusions

It is concluded that the process in which non-biodegradable waste or material is reused is termed recycling. It is regarded as one of the solutions to deal with non-biodegradable waste. 

Biodegradation is the breakdown of waste into simpler materials so that it can be used again by nature. If there is no biodegradation, there will be waste accumulation and generation in mass amounts. 

Recycling leads to a number of benefits such as better waste and resource management, lesser pollution, decreased carbon footprint, and increased employment opportunities. 

Frequently Asked Questions: What is the process of reusing non-biodegradable material?

Is biodegradation the same as composting?

No, there are some individual differences between the two. For composting, the waste must have organic content and must be non-toxic. Further, composting is mostly a controlled process, unlike biodegradation. 

Can all material be recycled?

No, not all materials can be recycled. Therefore, it is important to follow up with the nearest recycling centres to know which waste can be recycled and which not. For example, styrofoam can not be recycled.

References

  • Yang, Y., Boom, R., Irion, B., van Heerden, D. J., Kuiper, P., & de Wit, H. (2012). Recycling of composite materials. Chemical Engineering and Processing: Process Intensification, 51, 53-68.
  • Awaja, F., & Pavel, D. (2005). Recycling of PET. European polymer journal, 41(7), 1453-1477.
  • Hopewell, J., Dvorak, R., & Kosior, E. (2009). Plastics recycling: challenges and opportunities. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 364(1526), 2115-2126.
  • Garcia, J. M., & Robertson, M. L. (2017). The future of plastics recycling. Science, 358(6365), 870-872.
  • Tokiwa, Y., Calabia, B. P., Ugwu, C. U., & Aiba, S. (2009). Biodegradability of plastics. International journal of molecular sciences, 10(9), 3722-3742.
  • Plastic for change. (September 20, 2021). Which are items that can not be recycled. Retrieved from: https://www.plasticsforchange.org/blog/items-that-cannot-be-recycled

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