AQA GCSE Chemistry

Revision Notes

10.2.2 Reducing Use of Resources

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 & Disadvantages 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 ecosystems
  • 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

Glass, steel and concrete are usually produced from finite resources

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


  • 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 labour
  • Products made from recycled materials may not always be of the same quality as the original

Exam Tip

You should be able to evaluate ways of reducing the use of limited resources, given appropriate information.

Author: Francesca

Fran has taught A level Chemistry in the UK for over 10 years. As head of science, she used her passion for education to drive improvement for staff and students, supporting them to achieve their full potential. Fran has also co-written science textbooks and worked as an examiner for UK exam boards.

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