Good question! Here are the facts...
It Conserves Valuable Resources
Recycling paper reduces tree cutting and spares our forests.
Recycling metal, plastic and glass reduces resource extraction for raw materials and the ecosystem destruction associated with mining and drilling.
It Conserves Energy
It generally takes much less energy to produce new products from recycled materials than from virgin materials. For example, making a new aluminum can from recycled aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to make a new can from virgin aluminum (bauxite).
It Reduces Air and Water Pollution
Recycling reduces mining and drilling, both of which cause air and water pollution.
By saving energy, recycling reduces the air pollution associated with burning fossil fuels - which means less smog, acid rain and global warming.
Recycling is also an alternative to incinerating waste, a procedure which can produce emissions containing heavy metals and dioxins as well as also contribute to acid rain and global warming. The toxic ash produced by incinerating may also end up polluting ground water after being placed in a landfill.
It Avoids Landfills
Existing landfills are filling up. By recycling we can slow that process down.
Reducing reliance on landfills is desirable because they tend to leak, polluting ground water.
Landfills also produce methane gas which is a powerful greenhouse gas which contributes to global warming.
It Saves Money and Creates Jobs
As the market for products containing recycled materials grows, the market for recyclable waste materials will increase. Providers of these recyclables may be able to sell them or at least dispose of them for less cost than land-filling or incinerating.
Recycling is labor intensive, thus creating local jobs.