As our planet continues to battle the implications of climate change, developing countries like Pakistan wonder whether recycling is actually a viable option. In other words, is recycling worth the investment?
It's a Saturday, and having completed her homework for the weekend, 10-year old ZymalUmer-dubbed Pakistan's 'youngest social entrepreneur'-sits at her study table and turns old newspapers into bright and beautifully decorated gift bags, which she will then sell to family and friends. In the span of just three years, her enterprise, Zeebags, has gone from selling a few bags to selling hundreds-totaling five thousand dollars in sales. Zeebags is Zymal's bid to try to cut down Pakistan's whopping pollution level of over 20 million tons of emissions every year and increase awareness about the environment. However, Zymal is not the pioneer of the idea of launching an enterprise solely using recyclables.
Although the idea is relatively new in Pakistan and the developing world, recycling as an industry is taking many different forms in the West today, currently employing about 1.25 million workers in the United States alone. From hiking gear to children's toys, businesses are manufacturing items crafted completely from recycled materials, like discarded fabric and plastic water bottles; in fact, Americans recycle over 67 million tons of their trash. Manufacturers and retailers in these countries employ these recyclables and can create stunning, if not luxurious, products for consumers. Together, these companies are reducing waste, lowering carbon emissions and keeping more plastic out of the oceans.
Additionally, for a country that is struggling with an energy crisis, recycling can be Pakistan's beacon of hope as it helps conserve energy. Recycling aluminum cans eliminates 95 percent of the energy needed to make new cans from raw materials.
Similarly, recycling paper avoids approximately 60 percent, while recycling plastic and glass reduces the amount of energy by about one-third compared to making those products from virgin materials. In fact, the energy conserved by recycling one glass bottle would operate a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. Thus, by recycling, Pakistan will not only be able to add a whole new industry to its economy, but also save the current burden on its resources and energy usage by existing industries.
Unfortunately, Pakistan is not fully exploiting this avenue as recycling remains an informal industry in Pakistan...