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Recycling is... Loving the Planet

The modern world produces tons of garbage daily and it is increasingly necessary to think about recycling.

Recycling is... Loving the Planet

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 24/05/2022

By: Cláudia Verardi - Librarian at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco - PhD in Librarianship and Documentation

The modern world produces tons of garbage daily and it is increasingly necessary to think about recycling.
But what exactly is recycling? The term recycling means to transform used material objects (or material waste) into new products for consumption (RECICLAGEM DO LIXO, [2015?]).
Recycling can greatly benefit our planet since many materials take a long time to decompose in the environment.
According to Ribeiro (2012), “recycling significantly decreases the impact on the environment: it reduces the extraction of raw material from nature, saves water and energy, and reduces the inadequate disposal of waste. Moreover, it is a source of income for waste pickers.”
Both ordinary people and rulers are concerned about the excessive production of disposable products and packaging, which has increased excessively since the 1980s.
Several cities around the world campaign and actively participate in selective waste collection for recycling, favoring their country economically and helping preserve the environment. Recycling is one of the current initiatives that can save the planet since it significantly reduces soil, water, and air pollution.
Urban centers, which have high rates of population growth, find it increasingly difficult to locate places to install garbage dumps [landfills]. Therefore, recycling is an economically viable solution, besides being environmentally correct. (RECICLAGEM, 2015?).
The Garbage Recycling Booklet (2015) is a manual of a new practice to be adopted by society which seeks to show that a simple change in daily routine can transform the world into a better planet. This manual contains questions and answers along with information necessary for average citizens to do their part in the fight to preserve the environment. In this Booklet, we find the three basic steps for recycling:
1st. Separate all material that can be recycled – glass, paper, plastics, and metals – and place them in bags separate from organic waste (food waste).
2nd. The previously separated recyclable material must be washed and dried so that it can be recycled.
3rd. Deposit the separate, clean, and dry material for collection in a strategic place and different from where common waste is deposited. Observe which day selective collection happens in your neighborhood and, if your street does not have this service, seek the recyclable garbage deposits that are differentiated by colors:

– Green: glass (cups; medicine bottles; jars; bottles; colored glasses).
* CANNOT be recycled: car glasses; window glasses; pyrex; mirrors; TV tubes; lamps; eyeglasses; crystals; drug ampoules; flat tempered glass or glass from household items.
– Blue: paper and cardboard (newspaper, sheets of paper, paper bag, office paper, books, notebooks).
* CANNOT be recycled: greased paper, used toilet paper, carbon, cellophane, plasticized paper, wax paper (fax).
– Yellow: metal (beverage and food tins, glass container lids, biscuit tins, trays and pans, hardware, clamps, electric wires, plates, disposable lunchbox, aluminum, copper, steel, cleaning product tins).
* CANNOT be recycled: aerosol cans, paint cans, batteries, insecticide cans, pesticide cans.
– Red: plastic (food packaging, beauty and cleaning products, lids, toys, plastic parts, ballpoint pens, toothbrushes, buckets, kitchen wares). According to Ribeiro (2012), “90% of the waste produced in the world is plastic-based. Therefore, this material deserves special attention. Recycle supermarket bags, soda bottles (pet), lids, and even broken toys.”
* CANNOT be recycled: cellophane; vacuum packaging; disposable diapers; adhesives; greased packaging; plastic with silicone. Menstrual pads also cannot be recycled since they have a cotton part and a good amount of plastic and absorbent polymers (gel), which are all contaminated by blood.


According to Lopes (2012), from 2000 to 2008, the number of municipalities with selective waste collection increased in 120%, reaching 994, mostly located in South and Southeast Brazil. However, less than 18% of Brazilian municipalities have this service.
Many people still do not know what to do with the electronic or technological waste that increases with modern life: mobile phone chargers, televisions, notebooks, tablets, everything that uses cells and batteries, among others. According to Abreu (2014), Brazilians, as other populations from developed or developing nations, prefer to exchange their old electronics for new ones to keep up with technological advances or to have a more attractive model with more resources, not knowing what to do with their previous devices.
The debris of electronic material in the dumps slowly disintegrate, releasing toxic substances harmful to the environment and to our health. Examples are TV tubes and monitors, batteries, and printed circuit boards that are present in most computer items. These have at least five substances harmful to health – barium, bromate, cadmium, lead, and mercury – which, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate the soil, water, and even the air.
Europe has several initiatives for electronic waste reuse, and Germany, which is, according to Abreu (2014), one of the most successful recycling nations, recycles 30% of discarded electronics. In Sweden, about 1,550 manufacturers and importers collaborate financially to cover part of future collection and recycling expenses and maintain recycling centers and collection stations for small electronics such as batteries and lamps. To combat the uncontrolled growth of electronic waste, several Brazilian companies collect their products at the end of their useful life: Claro, Dell, HP, Itautec, Philips, and TIM are some of them.
In short, the materials that do not go to recyclable waste are: carbon paper, dirty papers, tissue paper, used toilet papers, paper cups, adhesive labels, crepe masking tapes, napkins, photographs, cigarette filters, cooking pan handles, sockets, clips, staples, steel sponges, pipes, mirrors, crystals, ceramics, and porcelain. “Cells and cellphone batteries must be returned to manufacturers or deposited in specific collectors” (RIBEIRO, 2012).
Everyone should do their part since, after all, recycling is also declaring love for our planet to ensure a better quality of life for future generations.
1. Do you know how long some things that can be recycled take to be absorbed into the environment?
- Paper: from 3 to 6 months
- Plastic: more than 100 years
– Metal: over 100 years
– Glass: undetermined (1 kg of broken glass makes 1 kg of new glass and can be
 recycled endlessly)
– Cardboard box: 2 months
– Aluminum can: 200 years
– Plastic cup: 50 years


2. Cooking oil thrown down the sink drain is one of the most harmful foods to the environment, contaminating rivers and seas. One singly liter of cooking oil can pollute one million liters of water. To avoid this, fill well-sealed PET bottles with the oil used and deliver them to one of several organizations specialized in this type of recycling; the material could be useful for soap factories and biodiesel production (More information on the website:


3. Used cotton is not recyclable and takes an average of 3 to 5 months to decompose in the environment.

Recife, July 27, 2015.


sources consulted

ABREU, Regina. Problema do tamanho do mundo: o lixo eletrônico se amontoa, exigindo das nações pulso firme ante um agente poluidor intolerável. Problemas Brasileiros, ano 52, n. 422, p. 10-15, mar./abr. 2014.


CARTILHA Reciclagem de Lixo. Disponível em: Acesso em: 14 jul. 2015.


CEMPRE – Compromisso Empresarial para Reciclagem. Disponível em: Acesso em: 27 jul. 2015.


LISBOA, Carla. Os que sobrevivem do lixo. Desafios do Desenvolvimento-Ipea, ano 10, n. 77, p. 58-63, out. 2013.


LOPES, Laura. Os números da reciclagem no Brasil. Época, São Paulo, 3 jan. 2012. Disponível em: Acesso em: 14 jul. 2015.


RECICLAGEM: reciclagem de lixo, plástico, reciclagem de alumínio, reciclagem de papel, respeito ao meio-ambiente, coleta seletiva de lixo, reciclagem de plástico. [2015?]. Disponível em: Acesso em: 14 jul. 2015.


RECICLAGEM do Lixo: importância da reciclagem do lixo, reciclagem de papel, vidro, alumínio, plástico, preservação do meio ambiente, lixo orgânico. [2015?]. Disponível em: Acesso em: 14 jul. 2015.


RIBEIRO, Rafaela. Como e por que separar o lixo? 2012. Disponível em: Acesso em: 28 jul. 2015.

how to quote this text

VERARDI, Cláudia Albuquerque. Recycling is... love the planet. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, 2015. Available from: Access on: month day year. (Ex.: Aug. 6, 2009.)