The Path to Drawdown: Industrial Recycling
Project Drawdown defines recycling as the recovery of recyclable post-consumer waste (like metals, plastic, glass, etc.) from the industrial and residential sectors. Recycling replaces the disposal of recyclable materials in landfills and reduces the need to extract new material for production.
Waste from manufacturing, construction, office buildings, schools and mines accounts for about half of all waste. All that is grouped together as “industrial and commercial waste.” Much of it, though not all, can be recycled and several strategies can enhance recycling rates.
Some of these strategies include creating marketplaces for secondary materials to facilitate the exchange of recyclable and reusable goods, innovation in conversion technologies to make more materials recyclable, and adopting circular business models to recapture “waste” as a valuable commodity.
Recycling industrial and commercial material can reduce emissions because producing new products from recovered materials often conserves energy. For instance, forging recycled aluminum products uses 95% less energy than creating them from virgin materials.
Project Drawdown estimates that, by 2050, serious efforts to recycle can help avoid 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions. To get there, recycling practices need to be adopted much more widely that they are now:
- <::marker> In 2014, 27% of recyclable waste was recycled
- <::marker> By 2050, 68% of recyclable materials should be recycled
- <::marker> That’s 2.6% CAGR between 2014 and 2050
If we can achieve this 68% recycling scenario, we can avoid up to 6.02 gigatons of GHG emissions.