Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Science

Damage to the environment

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Back
  2. Next

Recycling

The resources on the Earth are limited. It is important that the things we do now do not make things difficult or impossible for future generations. To achieve sustainable development, we need to balance these things carefully:

  • the need for economic development, where standards of living improve
  • respect for the environment and the resources it provides for us

Recycling is an important way to help us achieve sustainable development. We can recycle many resources, including:

  • glass
  • metal
  • paper

Glass

Glass is easily recycled. It can be melted and remoulded to make new objects, such as bottles. The energy needed to do this is less than the energy needed to make new glass from its raw materials. However, we need to sort different coloured glass ready for recycling, and transport it to the recycling plant.

Metal

Just like glass, it takes less energy to melt and remould metals than it does to extract new metals from their ores. Aluminium is a valuable metal that melts at a relatively low temperature, and is particularly attractive for recycling. However, a lot of metals that we use are mixtures called alloys, and it can be difficult to sort different metals ready for recycling.

Paper

Paper is not melted when it is recycled. Instead, it is broken up into small pieces and reformed to make new sheets of paper. This takes less energy to do than making paper from trees. However, paper can only be recycled a few times before its fibres become too short to be useful, and the recycled paper is often only good enough for toilet paper or cardboard. But it can be used as a fuel or compost instead.

Watch

You may wish to view this BBC News item from 2006 about a new school in Birmingham where most of the waste produced during its construction was recycled.

Page:

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Back
  2. Next

Back to There’s one Earth index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.