Canberra, April 17 : A new research has shown that recycling waste materials could be doing more harm to the environment than good or have no net benefit at all.
Tim Grant, an environmental engineering expert from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, carried out the research.
According to Grant, when it came to recycling consumer electronics such mobile phones, computers and TVs, the net benefit of recycling them would be negative for the environment.
While most experts agree that recycling plastic bottles and glass jars does less damage than burning or putting them in a landfill, the recycling process has environmental costs.
"It varies from state to state, depending on the sorts of technologies and transports and yields that you get," said Grant.
"If you go over to Western Australia, they won't have plastics recycling locally. The transport back to the eastern seaboard will outweigh any benefits from recovery," he added.
David Moy from the Waste Management Association of Australia used the example of rinsing out a glass jar before placing it in a recycling bin.
"The approach I would take to that is to not use fresh water to rinse out, but put them on the sink and wash them at the end of your washing up," he said.
"That gives you a clean product, without adding (that) environmental cost. But there's also an environment cost with transport: using carbon fuels and building the vehicles," he added.
According to Dr Sami Kara, an expert on the total environmental impact of consumer products at the University of New South Wales, working out if recycling a glass bottle was worth it was not a quick and easy task.
"These are issues related to type of product, collection networks, distance, volumes, recycling techniques, land fill cost, etc," said Dr Kara. "They all play a critical role," he added.
According to Grant, all those issues had to be taken into account.
"There's water, waste avoidance, greenhouse gas emissions, photo-chemicals, smog. You can calculate if you are going to be better off by going to a recycling system," he said.