Thursday, 10 September 2015

Deforestation and Desertification: A comprehensive look at its causes, contributors, spatial and temporal characteristic and human impacts thereof

Two of the most important and widespread environmental changes will be discussed in detail. The first is the occurrence of deforestation which is globally a problem and desertification also occurring on the majority of continents. Deforestation has an impact on desertification. Various aspects such as the spatial and temporal scale, the causes, and contributors of such manifestation, as well as human impacts and whether all types of global environmental change can be generalised, will be comprehensively considered.

Introduction to Deforestation
An important environmental issue, deforestation, is both a complex global and local problem and Africa, being a developing continent, is being most widely and devastatingly affected by such rapid occurrence. It compromises the notion of sustainable development by impacting the environment in a very immediate and detrimental way. Even though forests play an imperatively environmental vital role, as it supports vital ecosystems and houses a myriad of fauna and flora, it is being destroyed and cleared at an astronomically fast rate without having enough time to restore itself, causing inestimable habitat changes, as well as reducing carbon storage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that, from 1990 to 1995, the annual loss was estimated at 12.7 million hectares Furthermore, deforestation account for roughly one-sixth of total anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and degradation may account for 10% of total emissions in the tropics. Tropical deforestation is responsible for 6–17% of global carbon dioxide emissions that affect climate change (Angelsen & Kaimowitz 1999; Pfaff et. al 2013; Cassea et. al 2004).

Spatial characteristics
It is widely known that deforestation occurs in both developed and developing countries, but at different geographical contexts in specific localities and are characterised by different regional aspects, such as aridity, as well as diverse human-environment conditions. For example, deforestation occurring in Africa will markedly differ from that occurring in Asia because of factors such as poverty and a more arid climate. Each type experiences deforestation at a different rate and extent. Within Brazil, as in most tropical countries, the native forests are being lost through conversion to agriculture”. Brazil and Indonesia have accounted for a large portion of the global deforestation totals. The scale (magnitude) at which it occurs also significantly differs as it can either be on a small or larger scale, depending on what kind of activities (e.g. agricultural and logging) take place. Tropical forests are disappearing as a result of many pressures, both local and regional, acting in various combinations in different geographical locations. Some of the most important places where deforestation is taking place, specifically in developing countries, include Africa, in particular the Congo, in South America, referring to Peru and Brazil, and India, Indonesia, and China as well as developed countries, such as Russia, Canada, the USA, and Australia (Pfaff et. al 2013; Geist and Lambin 2002).

   Map 1: Deforestation data on occurrence around the world (Source: The World Bank 2011).

Deforestation, concisely described as the permanent clearing of forests, takes place as a result of myriad activities, most notably include agricultural expansion, such as permanent and shifting cultivation, cattle ranching, and wood extraction for commercial use as well as fuelwood and charcoal production.

Causes and contributors of deforestation
Deforestation occurs at different times at different regions around the world as land use changes, leading to deforestation, varies over time. Forests are depleted over a few years and are used for different activities. As a result of multifaceted socio-economic and geographical problems, especially faced by Africa, deforestation is taking place. Mostly notably the highest contributors to deforestation are small farmers, forest-dependent people, loggers, ranchers, as well as plantation companies.

There are several explanation as why forests are shrinking significantly. However, Cassea et. al (2004) argue that “it is more difficult to establish links between underlying factors and deforestation than between direct or immediate causes and deforestation”. Nonetheless, a clear distinction can be made between direct, proximate causes that directly impact forest cover, that originate from intended land use, pertaining from agriculture activities and expansion, wood collection, infrastructure extension, pasture land as well as indirect, underlying causes underpinning the direct causes which include social processes, referring to migration, human population dynamics, export prices, property rights, and government policies. This clearly indicates that socio-economic considerations impact deforestation considerably. Deforestation is driven by identifiable regional patterns of causal factor synergies, referring to economic factors, institutions, national policies, and remote influences driving agricultural expansion, wood extraction, and infrastructure extension (Cassea et. al 2004; Geist and Lambin 2002; Pfaff et. al 2013; Angelsen & Kaimowitz 1999).

There is one primary and direct factor which contributes the most to deforestation and land-use changes, namely, agricultural expansion. It includes forest conversion for permanent cropping, cattle ranching, shifting cultivation, and colonization agriculture. In permanent cultivation, the expansion of food-crop cultivation for subsistence is three times more frequently reported than the expansion of commercial farming (less than 25% for all regions). This is particular true for developing countries. Land is frequently converted to pasture or crops when forest is cleared. At the underlying, indirect level, deforestation can be attributed to driving factors that act synergistically and being driven by the interplay of economic, institutional, technological, cultural, and demographic variables.

Economic rationality
It is no surprise that economic factors, too, lead to deforestation as commercialization and the growth of timber markets and market failures drive deforestation. Such economic variables can include low domestic costs (for land, labour, fuel, or timber), product price increases (mostly for cash crops) and the requirement to generate foreign exchange earnings also has an impact. By clearing forests it is possible to create agricultural land, higher prices for agricultural products, produce staple food, commodities (e.g. biofuel), and even profiting from timber sales. Thus, there are socio-economic incentive to exploit forests in this way. As frontier agriculture becomes more profitable, both the existing population and migrants from other areas begin to shift resources into forest clearing. Development also impact the rate at which deforestation occur. Ecosystem services don’t generate revenue, thus aren’t part of many countries’ decision-making processes (Angelsen & Kaimowitz 1999; Geist and Lambin 2002).

Institutional factors
These relates to formal pro-deforestation measure including land use policies and economic development of colonisation, transportation (for agriculture and logging and fuelwood collection), and policy failures (e.g. corruption).

Technological factors
These include agro-technological change, with agricultural intensification having no distinct impact separate from agricultural expansion, and poor technological applications in the wood sector (leading to wasteful logging practices). Technology has both a direct effect on farmers’ behaviour and an indirect effect resulting from its impact on product and factor prices (including wages)(Geist and Lambin 2002; Angelsen & Kaimowitz 1999).

Cultural or socio-political factors
These include variables such as economic and policy forces and attitudes of the public.

Demographic factors
In-migration and population pressures also lead contribute to it. An increase in population density is also stressful on forests as this land is used for construction, fuel, and agriculture.

Other discernible causes can also be included, such as land use and clearing for housing and as a result of urbanisation, wildfires and overgrazing can unintentionally lead to the clearing of forests, fire charcoal and palm oil production (especially in Indonesia and Malaysia and in some parts of Africa), and mining are also a contributor, farmers clear forests to plant and cultivate staple crops or to let livestock graze on land. When land productivity declines, the land is furthered exploited for cattle grazing. People, especially poor people, who live close to forests are dependent on it to sustain themselves, as their subsistence depends on the source of forests as it provides critical fuelwood and food sources. Therefore, their livelihoods depends on an unlimited forest resource.

Human influences on phenomena
It is indisputable and inevitable that anthropogenic activities can, and have, caused deforestation to take place at an accelerated rate. In fact, humans are the primary cause of such clearing of forests. Many people, especially in the poorer, more developing parts of the world, forests are a source for survival and subsistence and rely totally on it and therefore are forest-dependent people. Farmers, loggers and ranchers modify the land to suit their needs, and forging and collecting wood from the land, thereby altering the quality of the forest.

Introduction to Desertification
Desertification is principally a man-made phenomenon and a widespread and irretrievable type of land degradation which occurs primarily in dryland environments. Desertification is linked to global environmental change through climate, biodiversity loss, human dimensions, and land change”. Over the last couple of years, desertification has rapidly occurred which has led to the considerable loss of arable land, leading to marginalisation. Desertification is the spread of desert-like conditions in arid and semi-arid conditions. It is a result of pressure from both climatic and human factors (Laki 1994; Middleton 2008; Phillips 1993). Phillips (1993) further elaborates, stating that “it may be the result of inherent biophysical feedbacks in dryland systems”. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (as cited in Middleton 2008) defines desertification as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. At least 35% of the earth’s land surface is threatened, inhabited by 20 % of the world’s population.” Many earth surface systems are unstable, and thus such aspects would inevitably lead to permanent decline. Natural vegetation clearing has taken place at a considerably fast rate, especially over the last couple of years which leads to desertification.

Spatial characteristics
Desertification specifically occurs in drylands, including arid, semi-arid, and dry subhumid zones. For example, in the Sahel, high pressure air-mass movement is thought to have contributed to desertification (Laki 1994). Food security inexorably affect desertification. Phillips (1993) notes that “this degradation occurs on all continents (except Antarctica)” indicating just how extensive and its reach truly are and that it takes place in spite of geology and temperature variances.
Map 2: Global Desertification Vulnerability - Source: United States Department of Agriculture 2003.

Causes and contributors of desertification
Land that are extensively used, contribute to desertification and as Middleton (2008) note, “they can be classified in intensive grazing, wood cutting, livestock overpopulation, over cultivation, overexploitation of vegetation, and a high demand for water resources”. These worries then lead to an inherent instability in vulnerable areas. These all have an exponential and long-term impact on the environment. Salinization of irrigated cropland is also responsible. Laki (1994) notes that the main factors contributing to desertification include “drought, population growth, the spread of extensive agriculture, deforestation, rapid urbanization, the erosion of local political power, the lack of economic institutions and the absence of social institutions which have tended to reduce the capacity of the local people to cope with the resource degradation problem”. Thus, like in the case of deforestation, it is widely influenced by human-induced activities, but also because of climatic factors such as climate change. It also, in turn, causes weather fluctuations especially drought. This have an enormous detrimental impact on valuable ecosystems. As such, desertification is a serious ecological problem and as Laki (1994) argues “the rate at which the process has been occurring has been estimated at 5-10 km per year”. Furthermore, erosion will take place as there is no vegetation cover. Land-ownership patterns also lead to desertification.

An enormous human population growth has occurred in the areas that are facing desertification, coupled with the inevitable need for natural resources, but the land can’t sustain all of these demands. Drought, naturally occurring or exacerbated by the human stresses and exploitation of land resources, have also resulted in greater occurrences of desertification. Different physical factors of soil are influenced by desertification, including depth, organic matter and the fertility of soil.

Desertification can thus be divided in three broad causes: continuing climatic changes; short-term weather oscillations; and human factors. In these regions, the ecological balance between climatic conditions, soil, vegetation cover, animal life and soil biota is so precarious that any incidental vicissitude may upset it’. The damage may be irreversible with severe and continued misuse (Laki 1994). Phillips (1993) argues that “the two-way relationships between seven key components in desertification (vegetation, albedo, temperature, precipitation, soil moisture, wind erosion, and water erosion) result in inherent instability”.

Arid areas are exceedingly influenced by climate. The climate of these arid lands is characterized by highly variable rainfall, high temperatures, strong winds and high evapotranspiration rates that exceed annual average (Laki 1994). Desertification leads to significant changes in microclimates. A reduction in rainfall, also unavoidably causes desertification. Soil worsening can be ascribe to human settlements but also their animals. Sand encroachment also lead to a decline in vegetation. Resource abuse (over cultivation, overgrazing, and woodcutting) is primarily responsible for desertification. Agricultural activities are exposing the soils to water and wind erosion.

As Laki (1994) explains, “marginal areas are brought into cultivation during periods of high rainfall. When dry years follow wet, the ploughed loose soil is susceptible to wind erosion, where the clays and silts are carried away as dust and the sand drifts to form dunes”. Deforestation contributes to desertification by making the microclimate more arid. Burning of grasslands is also a major contributor to desertification. Laki (1994) notes that “fire destroys forage and induces changes in the botanical composition of the predominant vegetation formations and communities”. The impact of desertification is also widespread which include hunger and thirst, as crop and animal production deteriorates. Which in turn leads to poverty and a loss of home, and can lead to a loss of life too.

Human influences on phenomena
Even though desertification can be triggered by climate variability (e.g. drought), it is irrefutable that form the above-mentioned statistics and data, desertification inevitably and inextricably are influenced by anthropogenic activities. Numerous examples such as overgrazing, intensive grazing, wood cutting, overpopulation, over cultivation, overexploitation of vegetation, and a high demand for water resources all occur as result of medication or altering the land for human’s needs. One thing is sure, desertification is highly unpredictable and is certainly exacerbated by human-induced land activities.

For deforestation it would be wrong to assume that it will and have the same causes and contributors. Many parts are primarily concerned with technological and economic advancement (thus capital-driven) and in other parts, like Africa who is a developing world, many people solely rely on forests for their fuelwood and food. Thus different causes will result from this. Different localities experience different causes, for example, in Africa it is more arid and poverty will also occur more frequently. The rate and extent of the occurrence of deforestation will also vary tremendously among differ parts of the world.

Both deforestation and desertification are two of the most important (and detrimental) environmental changes facing the world today. The poorer communities which live close to forests and deserts are the most vulnerable to such changes. It is clear that desertification can both be influenced by biophysical and socio-economic factors. It is intensified and exacerbated by human-induced land activities that are taking at an unsustainably rate place.

Angelsen, A., & Kaimowitz, D. 1999. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Rethinking the Causes of Deforestation: Lessons from Economic Models. The World Bank Research Observer vol. 14, no. 1. pp. 73–98.

Cassea, T., Milhøjb, A., Ranaivosonc, S., Randriamanarivoc, J.R. 2004. Causes of deforestation in southwestern Madagascar: what do we know? Forest Policy and Economics 6 (2004) 33–48.

Geist, H.J., &  Lambin, E.F. 2002. Proximate Causes and Underlying Driving Forces of Tropical Deforestation. BioScience Journal Vol. 52 No. 2 p. 143-150.

The World Bank. 2011. Data and Statistics: Deforestation.

Laki, S.L. 1994. Desertification in the Sudan: causes, effects and policy options. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 1:3, 198-205.

Middleton, N. 2008. The Global Casino: An introduction to Environmental Issues. 4th Edition. Hodder Education: London.

Pfaff, A., Amacher, GS., Sills., EO., Coren, MJ., Streck, C., & Lawlor, K. 2013. Deforestation and Forest Degradation: Concerns, Causes, Policies, and Their Impacts. Encyclopedia of Energy, Natural Resource and Environmental Economics.

Phillips, J.D. 1993. Biophysical Feedbacks and the Risks of Desertification, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 83:4, 630-640.

Reynolds, J.F., D. Mark Stafford-Smith, D.M., & Lambin, E. 2003. Do Humans Cause Deserts? An Old Problem Through The Lens Of A New Framework: The Dahlem. Proceedings of the VIIth International Rangelands Congress August 2003, Durban.

United States Department of Agriculture. 2003. Natural Resources Conservation Service: Soils- Global Desertification Vulnerability.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Barriers to recycling

The current emphasise on raising important awareness on climate change has helped people to realise that they play an exponential role in reducing their own waste via recycling. Unfortunately due to a variety of reasons, recycling doesn’t always takes place, both locally and globally. The four main categories of these barriers can be ascribe to household/individual behaviour; services/local situation; attitudes/motivation; information and knowledge.
1)  Household/individual behaviour

Many times household waste material hasn’t become regularised into people’s daily household routines – therefore it hasn’t been carried out automatically. Many factors, including time, personal cost, space, labour, practicality, and inconvenience, all impose demands on households when participating in recycling activities. Many times people also forget to sort at the source. Practicality specifically refers to houses not being big enough to keep several waste storage containers and therefore, storage problems ensue. Furthermore, another barrier to waste separation is that of social dilemma: short-term rationality impels people to act for their own benefit.

2)   Services / local situation

This category varies by locality. Although people frequently want to protect the environment and desire to participate in recycling, that concern is often hampered by the lack of access to recycling centres.

3)   Attitudes /motivation

It is axiomatic that motivation and attitudes can predict behaviour. Half-truths from the media or neighbours about what happens to the waste can negatively impact such behaviour.

4)   Information and knowledge

Sometimes people are unsure what exactly they are expected to do and what exactly which materials are to go in which receptacle. Recycling schemes have to be easier, more convenient, less time consuming, less effort but at the same time more enjoyable and rewarding.

Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4.

People’s behaviours and perceptions about recycling activities

Waste minimisation behaviours are multi-dimensional, complex, and varied. In order to fully minimise waste in landfills, it is important to understand what factors influence individual behaviour patterns. Predictors of recycling behaviour comprise several variables. Much recent attention has focused on individual recycling schemes, their participation rates, and the characteristics and attitudes of recyclers. Public awareness and attitudes to waste can affect the population's willingness to cooperate and participate in waste management practices. Respondents are frequently divided into recyclers or non-recyclers. Information can make people aware of the consequences of their behaviour and influence their awareness, opinions, attitudes, and knowledge. Pro-recycling attitudes and previous recycling experience are a key contributor to recycling behaviour which is influenced by having the appropriate opportunities, facilities and knowledge to recycle. Expressing the environmental benefits of recycling activities can motivate a person to participate in such activities. Raising awareness motivates individuals to act.

Behavioural Variables
Environmental values, situational characteristics, and psychological factors play a significant role in the prediction of waste management behaviour. It can be attributed to several groups of independent variables: environmental values, cognitive variables (e.g., knowledge, behavioural skills), situational variables, and personality variables (e.g., attitudes, locus of control/self-efficacy) and psychological factors which influence environmental behaviour.

Environmental values
Environmental values, classified as underlying orientations held by individuals toward the physical environment are important in looking at people’s individual perceptions of recycling and what influence their waste management behaviour. It is used interchangeably with environmental concerns, ecological worldviews, and environmental attitudes. Moreover, the relationship between social and environmental values can be interpreted as a socio-environmental basis for examining values toward environment. Environmental concern (or related concepts such as environmental values or ecological worldview) relate to an individual’s orientation towards, or concern for, the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the environment. People who believe recycling substantially reduces the use of landfills and conserves natural resources are more likely to recycle. Furthermore, Individuals who are more open to change, more altruistic, and feel closer to nature are more likely to be pro-environmental. Relational aspects of environmental values concern the implicit understanding of individuals to the relationship between nature and culture, or environment and human. It also to behavioural domains relating to the way in which humans treat the environment.

Situational Variables
Situational Variables influence waste management behaviour and are defined by given personal situation with regard to behavioural context (for example, service provision), individual characteristics (such as socio-demographics) and individual knowledge and experience of the behaviour. Behavioural context has been examined by a relatively small number of authors and has focused around the extent to which access to a structured kerbside recycling collection enhances recycling behaviour and degree to which static recycling provision influences action. Situational factors are embrace enabling and disabling influences and classed as contextual, sociodemographic, knowledge based, and experience based. Those with better access to static recycling also tend to recycle more.

Environmental and behavioural knowledge is important in shaping waste management and general pro-environmental behaviour. Environmental knowledge is the abstract knowledge for action, being a representation of general knowledge about the state of the environment and an awareness of environmental problems, such as waste issues. Knowledge regarding both environmental problems and an awareness of how to perform environmental behaviours is of importance. One can distinguish between ‘abstract’ and concrete (providing more scope to predict recycling and other environmental behaviours. Moreover, personal experience of the behaviour is a significant prediction of waste management behaviour; a strong link has been found between behavioural experience in one domain and action in another, whereby participation in one behaviour leads to more willing uptake of other actions.

Psychological Factors
Psychological factors (factors are unique perceptual traits of the individual and are personal perceptions of the individual in question that affect their overall behaviour) are all linked by the fact that they are personality characteristics of the individuals and the perceptions of those individuals toward the actions that they are undertaking and include altruistic influences on recycling behaviour. Psychological factors relate to personality and perceptional traits of individuals that determine their overall attitudes regarding an environmental behaviour. These variables are based on a recycling behaviour score; environmental concern score; facility provided attitude score; recycling attitude score; waste recycling confidence score; community identity score; difficulties in sorting household waste.

It relates to the degree to which recycling could be seen as altruistic, or helping, behaviour.

Intrinsic motivation
Intrinsic motivation to act is an important predictor of environmental and waste management behaviour. Individuals who find recycling enjoyable and derive inner satisfaction from helping the environment are more likely to both initiate and continue with pro-environmental behaviour.

Threat to wellbeing
A belief that environmental problems can be perceived as so much of a threat to well-being and health that they override many of the traditional predictors of environmental behaviour in their importance. The personalisation of an environmental problem may urge individuals to act as a matter of self-interest so as to avoid harm.

Extent of behaviour
The extent to which undertaking a given behaviour will also have a tangible impact. Individual actions can have little or no impact toward a given problem. Behaviour is predicted by behavioural intention, as well as the situational and psychological factors. In turn, behavioural intention would be predicted by environmental values, situational and psychological factors.

Importance of others’ recycling behaviour
The importance of others’ recycling behaviour is also likely to be significant in increasing individual recycling rates and when individuals are aware of a given social norm and accept this norm.

Public awareness and attitudes
Public awareness and attitudes to waste can affect the population's willingness to cooperate and participate in adequate waste management practices. General environmental awareness and information on health risks due to deficient solid waste management are important factors which need to be continuously communicated to all sectors of the population.

Self-efficacy may also be seen as a significant predictor of waste management. There exist a relationship between the degree to which respondents felt competent to and actually did undertake the behaviour and their action as well as their perception that such action will have a tangible positive effect.

Environmental citizenship
Individuals who conform to certain characteristics are more likely to behave in an appropriate manner because they feel involved within society and most importantly have a notion of citizenship. This include a balance between rights and responsibilities, an active involvement within society, characterized by a feeling of good community spirit and a part in the local decision making processes regarding the environment.

Recycling behaviour can be facilitated by convenience. Making recycling more convenient and accessible would be expected to enhance attitudes towards behaviour.

Understanding the factors that influence or promote recycling behaviour can lead to more efficient recycling programmes. Thus, four broad categories of explanatory variables relate to recycling behaviour (internal motivators (psychological factors that lead individuals to be self-motivated in continuing a certain act or task), external motivators (are psychological factors that motivate individuals in continuing an act through things they cannot control), internal facilitators (are factors that provide individuals with the knowledge and mental capacity to complete a task properly), and external facilitators (characteristics of the surrounding physical environment that allow for the completion of a task and also barriers that can discourage individuals from doing a task).

People’s perceptions, behaviours and opinions all differ as a result of differing environmental values, situational factors, and psychological factors. One thing remains certain, recycling is a viable solution, in terms of environmental, economic, and social aspects, to minimise the waste that has rapidly occurred over the recent years.

Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4.

Barr, S. & Gilg, A.W. 2007. A Conceptual Framework for Understanding and Analyzing Attitudes towards Environmental Behaviour. Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography, Vol. 89, No. 4 (2007), pp. 361-379.

Riley, M. 2008. From Salvage to Recycling – New Agendas or Same Old Rubbish? Jstor Area, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 79-89.

Swami, V., Chamorro-Premuzic, T., Snelgar, R., Furnham, A. 2011. Personality, individual differences, and demographic antecedents of self-reported household waste management behaviours. Journal of Environmental Psychology 31 (2011) 21e26.

Tonglet, M., Phillips, P.S., & Bates, M.P. 2004. Determining the drivers for householder pro-environmental behaviour: waste minimisation compared to recycling. Resources, Conservation and Recycling 42 (2004) 27–48.

Woodard, R., Harder, M.K., Bench, M. 2006. Participation in curbside recycling schemes and its variation with material types. Waste Management 26, 914–919.

Don’t waste your waste - Benefits of recycling

Source: Recycling Guys
Researchers have been writing about recycling since the 1970s and it is a heavily researched topic and therefore a lot is already understood about this topic. Recycling has become an established norm for many communities. Recycling is a viable means of addressing the problems associated with municipal waste disposal. Recycling can not only benefit yourself, but also the environment.

·       Less Pressure on Landfills - Reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators and that must be dispose of;

·       Sustainable use of Resources;

·       It lessens the need to extract the planet’s limited raw material resources and conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals;

·       Prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials; Recycling of industrial products cuts down pollution levels significantly;

·       Saves energy - A large amount of energy is consumed by processing raw materials during manufacturing and recycling ultimately minimises this;

·       Prevents Loss of Biodiversity: Less raw material is needed when you engage yourself in recycling products and it will prevents loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. Soil erosion and water pollution, enabling indigenous plants and animals to survive in forests;

·        Recycling reduces the pressure to expand forestry and mining production - recycled paper made from certain trees is re-used repeatedly to minimize felling/ deforestation;

·       Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change - human activities have contributed to an accelerated warming of the Earth’s surface through the increase of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere;

·       Helps sustain the environment for future generations;

·       It is a very helpful environmental education tool – all people (from young children to elders) can participate in recycling initiatives to protect our precious resources;

·       Helps create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries;

·       Motivate the Use of Greener Technologies: By participating in recycling has helped people to use greener technologies e.g. renewable energy sources like solar and wind;

·       Greater economic development; and

·       Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Recycling Statistics


·       Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990-doubling in just 10 years.

·       It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminium than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. These savings far outweigh the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling.

·       In 2000, recycling resulted in an annual energy savings equal to the amount of energy used in 6 million homes (over 660 trillion BTUs). In 2005, recycling is conservatively projected to save the amount of energy used in 9 million homes (900 trillion BTUs).

·       A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.

Source: Recycle UK
·       When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.
·       Recycling one aluminium can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours

·       A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel.

Source: Dreams Time
·       To produce each week's Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.

·       If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!

·       The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!

·       The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.

·       The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.

·       Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
Source: Globalcry
·       Recycled paper supplies more than 37% of the raw materials used to make new paper products in the U.S. Without recycling, this material would come from trees. Every ton of newsprint or mixed paper recycled is the equivalent of 12 trees. Every ton of office paper recycled is the equivalent of 24 trees.

·       The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.

·       The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the cost of a mill using new pulp.


Source: 123rf
·       Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year!

·       Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.

·       11 recycled PET (POLYETHYLENE TERAPHTHALATE) plastic bottles can make 1 pair of men’s trousers pet .


·       Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!

·       The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

·       A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.

·       Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.


Recycling Revolution


Defining Recycling
Recycling is defined as the redirection of materials from waste stream into the manufacturing, agricultural, horticultural and construction sectors for use in the creation of new products waste materials are used in the creation of other new products. Inherent in this redirection is that one must know what kind of material is fit for what purpose (Senzige et al. 2014). Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials and turning them into new products. These materials would have otherwise end up in the trash.

Importance of recycling
Recently, geographical research has continuously involve sustainable household waste management strategies, of which recycling is an important component and have focused specifically around people’s behaviour and perceptions to recycling activities. Waste is abundantly found all over the world and spaces for landfills are diminishing and because landfills are the traditional way of getting rid of solid waste, alternative actions are necessary. Due to the rapid urbanisation taking place in cities, burgeoning population, rapidly developing economies, unsustainable human activities, lifestyle changes, and mass consumption (due to a rise in income), it has detrimentally negative impacts on both the environment and people.

Municipal solid waste (MSW) presents environmental, social, and economic problems. More people are migrating to cities in search of a better life, but place a huge strain on resources and lead to poor waste management. Of importance is the way in which this waste is handled, collected and dispose of to ensure that is appropriate and safe solid waste management. Beneficial use of waste depends on efficient collection and separation. Due to solid waste being an increasingly growing problem, especially over the last two decades, greater awareness is required. The decisions of Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM) are not only very capital intensive, but it also challenging from environmental and social points of view. Due to a mass consumer society, waste management has become a global environmental priority.

Scale is central to the geography of contemporary recycling schemes as the notion for searching for a sustainable future is described in idea of ‘Think Global, Act Local’ and is extremely useful in waste management principles to encourage individuals to reflect upon their own lifestyles within the context of global and local environmental problems and to make small everyday changes in their lives to positively contribute to curtailing environmental problems and overuse of natural resources. As such, participating regularly in recycling activities can yield the required results. Separating waste in households are important to close the loop of materials. Despite increases in solid waste that is being recycled, the overall MSW continues to increase and therefore improvement is required. Awareness of environmental degradation has been abundant in the news of late through mostly education. This has led to environmental concern entering the human consciousness to make more sustainable choices. The most important aspect regarding this, is to thoroughly ensure that waste simply doesn’t take place and to best avoid and reduce waste all together. However, there are some barriers to participating in recycling activities such as fear of the perceived dangers of waste, social norms and a carelessness towards the environment.
Sustainable waste management
At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, it was decided that levels of governmental structure around the world would make progress to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills (Barr 2007). For sustainable waste management to take place, require changes in individual consumer habits and attitudes and an understanding of waste minimisation behaviour. To achieve sustainable and effective waste management, development strategies must go beyond purely technical considerations to formulate specific objectives and implement appropriate measures with regard to political, institutional, social, financial, economic and technical aspects of MSWM (Schübeler et al. 1996). By adapting to the prevailing context of the country in which MSWM systems operate would lead to the effectiveness and sustainability thereof. MSWM must promote environmental conditions through controlling pollution and to ensure the sustainability of ecosystems.

Source: Recycling Supply

Schubeler, P., Christen, J., and Wehrle, K. 1996. Conceptual framework for municipal solid waste management in low-income countries. Urban management and infrastructure.

Senzige, J.P, Nkansah-Gyeke, Y., Makinde, D.O., & Njau, K.N. 2014. The potential for solid waste recycling in Urban Area of Tanzania: The case of Dar Es Salaam. International Journal of Environmental Protection and Policy.

Barr, S. 2007. Factors Influencing Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors: A U.K. Case Study of Household Waste Management. Environment and Behavior Volume 39 Number 4.