Why championing recycling can help to combat climate change

combat climate change, global recycling day
© David Burke

Ranjit Baxi, comments on the link between recycling and climate change, as well as the success of the celebrated Global Recycling Day 2019 on 18th March in cities globally

Launched last year in 2018, Global Recycling Day, an initiative of the Global Recycling Foundation (GRF), is a movement dedicated to celebrating the importance of recycling and making the world think resource not waste. Taking place on 18th March every year, Global Recycling Day saw events, campaigns and social media activity take place across the globe, reaching hundreds of millions of people.

We all appreciate the value of recycling in preserving our precious primary resources and now we’re starting to see a new focus on the impact of recycling has in helping to reverse the effects of catastrophic climate change.

The growth in public perception of climate change

Public consciousness is waking up to its pivotal role in preventing climate change, most dramatically witnessed by widespread protests taking place across the world in recent months. This has ranged from the activities of environmental activists, such as the protests organised by Extinction Rebellion over Easter Weekend, to everyday citizens. And this week the UK parliament became the first in the world to recognise a ‘climate change emergency’ (https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/climate-emergency-jeremy-corbyn-michael-gove-uk-parliament/).

We’ve also seen a form of youth engagement like never before, with school strikes around the world led by the now iconic Greta Thunberg. And back in December 2018, a landmark agreement (https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/climate-emergency-jeremy-corbyn-michael-gove-uk-parliament/) was announced at COP24 in December 2018 which saw the world’s governments agree to a robust set of guidelines for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement – representing a major step forward.

Throughout these strikes, discussions and events, recycling has at times taken centre stage. According to a study by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and the European Climate Foundation, an improved circular economy is crucial in achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement (https://unfccc.int/news/circular-economy-is-crucial-to-paris-goals-study). And the recent Waste to Wealth Summit (https://www.bitc.org.uk/campaigns-programmes/environment-sustainability/wastetowealth), spearheaded by HRH The Prince Of Wales’s Responsible Business Network, was launched in November to eliminate unavoidable waste by 2030 and prevent catastrophic climate change.

The Global Recycling Foundation is calling on the recycling industry to further focus on its role in alleviating the effects of climate change through championing the circular economy. The GRF strongly believes that recycling is both an integral and important part of the circular economy cycle and is an important contributor in supporting CO2 reduction to meet climate change goals.

The link between recycling and climate change

Recycling has been shown to lead to reduced carbon emissions and is paramount to the fight against climate change. Evidence from the Bureau of International Recycling has shown that recycling can save over 700 million tonnes in CO2 emissions every year (https://www.globalrecyclingday.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/ManifestoFINAL.pdf).

Recycling helps to tackle climate change and promote sustainable economic growth due to the fact that less energy is required in the manufacturing of products using recyclable raw materials, fewer materials are incinerated saving further carbon emissions and less waste is sent to landfills meaning a decrease in greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

These are some of the many reasons Global Recycling Day was launched in 2018, in order to encourage the world to think ‘resource not waste’ and look after the future of our planet. And, in order to live up to climate change agreements and reduce our collective carbon footprint, the Global Recycling Foundation urges governments, organisations and individuals around the world to further invest and support the growth of recycling industries.

Global Recycling Day and awareness around recycling is key to making the changes we need to see. And while it’s still a while away, we encourage everyone to gear up for Global Recycling Day 2020 and think about how they can get involved and support their planet – although action shouldn’t be limited to just a day. The importance of recycling and its key benefits in lowering worldwide carbon emissions and reducing climate change is key to our future and should be remembered throughout the year.


Ranjit Baxi


Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)
Founding President
Global Recycling Foundation
Tel: +32 2 627 57 70


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