Is it enough for the climate that we sort the garbage?

Recycling is of course good and valid, but does sorting my trash benefit the climate?

Recycling is of course good and valid, but does sorting my trash benefit the climate?

Globally, more than 2 billion tons of household waste are generated per year. That’s 250 kg per person and if everything was handled as well as possible, it would have a huge climate impact.

In 2021, the British consulting firm Eunomia produced a report showing that if all waste were sorted and treated by 2030, it would reduce emissions by 2.76 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year.

2.76 billion tons of greenhouse gas, we can save the atmosphere by sorting and recycling all garbage. That corresponds to about 5.5% of our total emissions.

This figure can be put in context with the total emissions of about 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

Glass and metal are great recyclers

One of the most valuable benefits lies in the recycling of glass. Calculations show that if Americans increase glass recycling from 33% to 50%, the reduction in emissions is equivalent to 300,000 gasoline cars.

Metals also weigh heavily in these calculations. Sorting metals apart and recycling them is relatively simple, and that’s exactly why the benefits are huge.

Recycling aluminum is one of the things that saves the most energy and thus benefits the climate.

Aluminum recycling, for example, requires only 5% of the energy used to produce new aluminum from bauxite.

Even food waste can be recycled to benefit the climate. The conversion of food scraps into soil in a composting plant produces fuel instead of the waste rotting and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

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