For many of us, the word “plastics” conjures up images of thoughtlessly discarded plastic waste, tainting the natural environment of animals in the desert and fish in our seas. The reality is that plastic is a valuable material that should never become waste. When used and recycled correctly, plastics and the environment can live in real harmony, and here’s why.

Thanks to its versatility, energy saving potential and ability to be recycled, plastics make an immense contribution to sustainability and help us take better care of our planet. Our transportation, food, housing, water, and energy needs are crucially important in our daily lives, but thanks to plastic innovations, greenhouse gas emissions associated with our basic needs are minimized significantly. In fact, plastics save 124 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, which is comparable with the entire CO2 emissions of Belgium in a year.

Nowadays, calls to ban or replace plastics have become all too common, but did you know that if plastics were to be substituted with alternative materials, the environmental cost of consumer goods and packaging would increase by nearly four times? At the same time, the production of plastic itself is hugely economical and only requires a small portion of energy to produce. And its high energy efficiency contributes tremendously to climate protection, with plastics saving seven times their production impact, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits of recycling

An opportunity exists for all of us to play a part in protecting the environment by recycling our plastics. By adopting best recycling practices, we help to conserve our natural resources, protect the region’s ecosystems and wildlife, save energy, and reduce our carbon footprint. Thanks to its versatility, plastic can be recycled into new products, and by recycling at home we can all play a role in giving plastic a second chance to life and eliminating plastic waste. Recycling our plastic, one household at a time, can also help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, with one study suggesting that recycling one ton of plastic can save 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space .

Do you want to start recycling, but not sure where to start? Here’s what you can do at home and when outdoors to help plastic serve the purpose for which it was originally built – enhance our lives and protect the environment.