Why Should People Recycle?

What Motivates Recycling?

There are many motives for recycling like reducing the need for mining, quarrying and logging trees or refining and processing new raw materials. Recycling already mined and manufactured products saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, limits air and water pollution and diminishes the negative effects on climate.

The benefits of recycling are sound and positive. They include: 

  • Less waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
  • Saves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals.
  • Supports economic security by tapping a domestic source of materials.
  • Reduces sources of pollution by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials.
  • Saves energy.
  • Creates employment and contributes to economic well being.

Most people are doing a good job at recycling but we can always do more. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says Ireland generated approximately 14 million (M) tonnes of waste in 2018, corresponding to 2.9 tonnes per person.

The makeup of Ireland’s municipal waste has changed considerably over the last ten years. Plastics now makeup one-fifth of the waste in household recycling and residual waste bins.

More residual waste is now used as a fuel (energy recovery) than disposed to landfill in Ireland. In 2020, Ireland had three landfills accepting municipal waste for disposal in Ireland and two municipal waste incinerators accepting municipal waste for energy recovery while three cement kilns are authorised to accept solid recovered fuel (SRF) for co-incineration as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Recycling achievements over 20 years include:

  • 126 landfills in Ireland, reduced to 3.
  • 10 million tonnes of packaging diverted from landfill
  • 8 billion plastic bottles recycled
  • 7 billion glass bottles recycled
  • 6 billion aluminium cans recycled
  • 4 million tonnes of paper and cardboard
  • Separate yearly collection of 8.6KG per person of WEEE from households.

Reward Driven

Human are reward driven by nature and because the reward for recycling is not immediate and the repercussions are in the future many people develop a habit of total waste disposal. They don’t see the effects of climate change, global warming and environmental harm as affecting them in the present.

Barriers to Recycling

We need to look at potential and real barriers to recycling and take action to increase reduce, reuse and recycling participation in our homes and local communities.

Different areas, communities and people will face barriers to recycling with some requiring unique recycling solutions to overcome these barriers

The graph below lists the top reasons people said they don’t recycle more:

Source: Ipsos poll conducted 2011 (Published by the Huffington Post)
Source: Ipsos poll conducted 2011 (Published by the Huffington Post) Reformatted by Recycle IT

Encouraging Change

Practical solutions are important and can increase recycling participation rates, for example if recycling drop off initiatives are inconvenient for your areas could curbside collections be researched and introduced to improve recycling rates. This is a solution Recycle IT introduced a number of years ago for electrical items. Here are some more ideas.

1: Add recycling bins to public areas – work with your area representatives to achieve this goals.

2: Write a column for the local newspapers/newsletters or publish a blog.

3: Ask local schools to teach recycling to students and parents together.

4: Form a local recycling group or establish a tidy town initiative.

5: Use your creativity to repurpose, reuse or recycle and bring others along on the journey.

6: Reduce confusion. Many people are confused about which items can be recycled or can’t be recycled. Thinks about plastic yogurt pots or paper towel tubes? What do you do? Read more in an article by Conor Pope in the Irish Times or view the waste lists for Ireland here and share.

7: Think about the economic benefits of reuse or recycling to you and others. Did you know that organisation such as Recycle IT can create training opportunities and jobs based on recycling old electrical, electronic and pure metal items? What can you do?

Recycle IT – Cables


In 2018 the EPA reported data which puts Ireland just about in compliance with the Waste Framework Directive’s municipal recycling target of 50% (target for 2020). Current recycling trends indicate that Ireland faces significant challenges in meeting future EU recycling targets for 2025 (55%) to 2035 (65%).

Electrical and Electronic Change

In 2018 according to EPA data Ireland reached the European Union waste electrical and electronic equipment recycling and recovery targets for all ten categories of WEEE. The 2018 collection target was set at 45% of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market and we achieved collection rate of a 61%. This EU target increased to 65% from 2019. Did you know that 73% of WEEE collected in 2018 pre-treated in Ireland with organisations like Recycle IT and others working to achieve with result

From a everyday perspective electrical and electronic gadgets of all kinds can be incredibly useful and benefit all parts of our lives. The biggest downsides of electronics is the toxic nature of their many components. They are toxic to the environment, and sometimes to life. Some are just thrown away and left to leach into the soil which harms animals plants and water sources. You might consider slowing down the purchase cycle, use gadgets for longer, offer for reuse and lastly recycle safely with an organisation like Recycle IT

We should all care about recycling now, so our children and grandchildren can have cleaner greener futures on the planet which is central to our very existence.

About Recycle IT

Recycle IT is an award-winning not for profit social enterprise providing a collection and drop off service for all types of waste electrical, electronic and metal items. During the last 18 months Recycle IT drop off and collection services to homes and organisations in Dublin and surrounding areas collecting a range of WEEE which includes thousands of kitchen appliances, computers, cables, monitors, laptops, TV’s and pure metal items of all shapes and sizes

Our electrical community collection service is provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland. Recycle IT are supported by Pobal, South Dublin County Council and authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across Leinster, Ireland.

Recycle IT – Award Winners

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