The Azimuth Project
Recycling (Rev #2)


Does recycling save energy? Apparently so for aluminium: this takes around 54 MJ/kg to produce from ore (cf. Wikipedia), while recycling takes roughly 20% of the energy. For comparison: coal provides around 28 MJ/kg (again, cf. Wikipedia).

What about glass? This page asserts a significant energy saving, although only quantified as 315kg of CO 2CO_2 is saved per tonne of glass melted and “Recycling two bottles saves enough energy to boil water for five cups of tea”.

What about other materials? Of course, there are other reasons why recycling might be a good thing: reducing pollution from landfills, needing fewer bleaching chemicals for paper and card, etc. However, it would be nice to assess it from a saved energy point of view. Unfortunately, it seems that many criticisms of recycling come from economists criticising it on the basis of a higher monetary cost than landfill, rather than on other more physical criteria.