In 1995 New Zealanders buried over 3 million tonnes of rubbish in landfills. As organic waste begins to break down it releases methane. Scientists have estimated that 36% of human-generated methane is released from landfills in this way. The methane traps heat in the atmosphere 21 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, contributing to global warming. Recycling instead of dumping rubbish, however, results in lower greenhouse-gas emissions. Less waste means less methane. In addition, carbon emissions are decreased when goods are made from recycled material rather than from scratch. Emissions are four to five times lower when products are made from recycled steel, copper, glass and paper, and up to 40 times lower for aluminium.
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Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Shirley Williams
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