Being a citizen of the modern day ‘Zero Waste’ community, a person needs to learn where to draw a line of differentiation between the items that need to be recycled and the ones that should be composted, or the unfortunate ones that must find their place in normal trash. Recycling and composting are the two environmental friendly methods for handling solid municipal waste. Using either of these approaches keeps the trash away from landfills and helps in conserving our environment.
Though reusing products or reducing their consumption in the first place can possibly have greater long-term benefits, composting and recycling are the perfect means of managing the discarded items and other kinds of waste. In a majority of cases, the prime difference between these two techniques pertains to the materials involved – manufactured or organic.
Recycling deals with the manufactured products that are otherwise discarded as waste. These products are recycled by converting them into items worth using for the second time. This is typically done by breaking down the product into its raw materials and reusing them to manufacture something new or similar to the old product. Recycling can be easily accomplished on a personal level or on a broader base, which might even involve the contribution of the entire community. When customers purchase products made from recycled material, the overall environmental benefits are multiplied as less energy and resources are consumed in manufacturing these products as compared to the goods that are manufactured for the first time.
Composting is a process that helps put organic waste to an alternative use. Materials like grass cuttings, shredded leaves, newspapers, fruit clippings, coffee grounds, and other similar items, in correct proportion, are combined with water and air for starting the biological decomposition process. The compost that is formed thereafter is helpful in growing plants and soil amendment. Even if the compost isn’t maintained on a personal level, municipalities help in picking such waste and compost it on a large scale.
Both recycling and composting techniques help in keeping tons of materials away from being treated at municipal landfills. Recycling helps in releasing the pressure on a wide range of environmental fronts. When these are recycled, less composting space is consumed and fewer landfills are required to be done in the long run. This also means that lesser raw materials, energy and other resources are used in manufacturing new items from the recycled materials in comparison to the energy and raw material used after being extracted from the earth. Composting treats the material in a natural manner and gives back to the earth the materials that initially came from it. It certainly helps in soil remediation as well as enrichment, and avoids causing any kind of soil erosion. Moreover, it doesn’t contribute towards pollution, which is one serious point of concern with landfills.
Recycling, in its own, is a very large industry that employs more than a million workers who are paid about $37 Billion per year, employed by companies who are making a profit of over $236 Billion every year. Composting, on the other hand, helps in saving an organizations’ or individual’s monetary resources by reducing the expenses incurred for acquiring fertilizers and pesticides.
The Defining Line
It is quite clear how recycling and composting, despite being environmentally sound methods of waste management, are completely different from each other. It solely depends upon the individuals or society, to choose an ideal method of managing the discarded items and solid municipal waste in the best possible and environment-friendly manner.