Reusing & Recycling

  • Everyday materials such as glass, metal, plastics, ceramics are produced from natural but finite sources.
  • Some products made from these materials can be reused which saves energy and decreases the environmental impact.
  • Glass bottles only need to be washed and sterilised before they can be reused.
  • Other products cannot be reused in this way but can be processed and recycled.
  • Metals can be melted and recast into new shapes.
  • Sometimes the materials being recycled need to be kept separate, depending on what the use of the recycled material will be.
  • Iron for example can be recycled together with waste steel as both materials can be added to a blast furnace, reducing the use of iron ore.
  • Glass that is broken or damaged and cannot be reused is separated by colour and composition before being recycled.
  • The glass is then crushed and melted, and remoulded into shape for its new use.
  • Recycling has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Recycling

Economic Implications

  • It is economically beneficial to recycle metals, especially those that are costly to extract such as aluminium.
  • Recycling is fast becoming a major industry and provides employment which feeds back into the economy.


  • Mining and extracting metal from ores has detrimental effects on the environment and its natural habitats.
  • It is much more energy efficient to recycle metals than it is to extract them as melting and re-moulding requires less energy.
  • Recycling decreases the amount of waste produced, hence saving space at landfill sites and energy in transport.

Raw Materials

  • There is a limited supply of every material on Earth.
  • As global populations increase there is greater need for effective recycling methods to attain sustainable development.
  • Mining and extraction use up valuable fossil fuels, which contributes to climate change.

Disadvantages of Recycling

  • Collection and transport of material to be recycled requires energy and fuel.
  • Workers, vehicles and worksites need to be organised and maintained.
  • Materials need to be sorted before they can be recycled which also requires energy and man hours.
  • Recycled products may not always be of the same quality as the original.

AQA GCSE Chemistry Notes

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Morgan Curtin Chemistry

Author: Morgan

Morgan’s passion for the Periodic Table begun on his 10th birthday when he received his first Chemistry set. After studying the subject at university he went on to become a fully fledged Chemistry teacher, and now works in an international school in Madrid! In his spare time he helps create our fantastic resources to help you ace your exams.