Impact on sustainability

Greater consideration is now given to ensuring that the materials and energy we use are sustainable. This includes where the resources come from and how they are disposed of at the end of their life.

Finite resources

Finite resources are non-renewable and will eventually run out. Metals, plastics and fossil fuels (coal, natural gas and oil) are all examples of finite resources. Finite resources are popular as they are easily accessible due to strong supply chains and often have benefits for manufacturing particular products or for energy supplies. Companies have become more careful in their use of finite resources, and they now consider the ecological footprint caused by using such materials.

A large open pit for manganese mining with yellow trucks and diggers.
Mining for finite resources can have a drastic effect on the landscape

Non-finite resources

Non-finite resources are found naturally and can be replaced. Examples include wood, cotton and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Where trees are cut down for wood or hibiscus plants harvested for cotton, new ones can be planted in their place.

A smiling farmer harvesting cotton.
Farmer harvesting cotton

Waste disposal

How materials and resources are disposed of is carefully monitored and managed by local councils. Households are encouraged to recycle waste items where possible, including products made from various materials such as hard plastics, paper and steel. Natural garden waste can also be recycled. In 2016, the UK recycled 25 per cent of household waste, with the target of 50 per cent in 2020. All other waste goes to landfill sites, which release harmful gases that pollute the surrounding air and soil.

Food packaging label with the FSC logo with recycle logos for paper and plastic.