Recycling can help reduce global warming — but how, exactly, is still a lesson many people around the world are learning.

Svante Arrhenius published his scientific theory of global warming in 1896. He suggested that the earth’s atmosphere was becoming polluted, and that the pollutants were trapping sunlight rather than releasing it back into space. Earth was subsequently undergoing the greenhouse effect, and its temperature was rising.

It would take nearly a century for global warming to become a public concern.

Environmentalists in the early 1970s circulated information about the correlation between human activity and the planet’s polluted atmosphere. Their cause was met with a confused reaction of belief versus disbelief.

Some doubt the reality of global warming altogether, while others believe that because it appears to have no effect on their life, the planet’s rising temperature is not their problem.

Who is affected by global warming?

Whether they know it or not, everyone on Earth is directly or indirectly affected by global warming.

Among those directly experiencing the effects of global warming are farmers. The health of crops, such as wheat and corn, depends on the amount and steadiness of rain. As the climate becomes warmer, the air retains more moisture, so global warming makes it increasingly difficult for agriculture experts to predict rainfall patterns.

A common misconception is that global warming’s only effect on crops is droughts (a lack of adequate moisture from rainfalls), but these periodic droughts go hand-in-hand with floods.

Sudden overloads of water are catastrophic to farmlands, ultimately straining food production.

The less such crops yield, the less food is available to consumers, who thus indirectly experience the consequences of global warming.

Sure, global warming is gradual, and anyone alive on Earth today is unlikely to experience the end of the world, but the rate of climate change has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies reports that, “…the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8°Celsius (1.4°Fahrenheit) since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade.”

Human activity causes small, but significant, changes to the climate every day.

Which is exactly why small changes in our recycling habits can help reduce global warming.

How does recycling help reduce global warming?

Recall Arrhenius’s theory that pollutants in the atmosphere trap heat, causing global warming. Some of these pollutants, referred to as greenhouse gases, are carbon dioxide, ozone, nitrous oxide, and methane.

Greenhouse gases are created both naturally and by human activity. Consider metals, such as aluminum, copper, steel, and iron. When humans manufacture metal commodities from raw materials, the process of industrial production causes greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words, smelting new metal directly contributes to the pollution of the atmosphere. A robust example is steel production. Steel is made of iron ore, the mining of which causes CO2 emissions. NASA reports that CO2 contributes to 20% of the planet’s greenhouse effect, and CO2 has a tremendous duration (think centuries) in the atmosphere.

While scientists are still determining whether or not harmful gases in the earth’s atmosphere may ever completely disappear [4], it has been determined that metals may be reused. Therefore, humans have the opportunity to lessen the rate of climate change. Recycling steel, rather than mining for its elements from Earth’s precious raw resources, is a substantial way to mitigate the emission of CO2.

Where can you recycle scrap metal in Canada?

Most major cities in Canada have facilities for recycling scrap metal.

In Western Canada, Richmond Steel Recycling’s main location is in Metro Vancouver, but also has facilities in three other British Columbia locations: Kamloops, Prince George, and Fort St. John. In Alberta, Edmonton is home to a fifth facility.

If you’re considering bringing scrap metal to a recycling facility, first asses the types of metal you need recycled. Cars, for example, are frequently comprised of steel, aluminum, and iron. If your scraps are comprised of more than one type of metal, it’s important to select a company with the capacity to conduct across-the-board metal recycling.

Richmond Steel Recycling accepts a long list of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, such as steel, tin, brass, iron, aluminum, copper, lead, and zinc.

By bringing your scrap metal to Richmond Steel Recycling, rather than sending it to landfills, you will contribute to a lowered rate of greenhouse gas emissions and the overall reduction of global warming.