Recycling of Resources

Recycling is a process by which wastes of natural and manufactured substances or goods are broken down and then reconstituted into useful materials or raw materials. If we carefully observe the natural process like hydrological cycle, carbon cycle, rock cycle and nitrogen cycle we will find that recycling operates in nature on a very large scale. If these process were not there the earth would be one big dump or sink of wastes. These natural cycles are largely responsible for existence of life on earth and keeping it young. Recycling helps to conserve earths energy and resources and prevents it from getting polluted.

Man has essentially copied the natural recycling process to make useful products from recycled wastes. A diagrammatic illustration of recycling of paper is explained here. With human population having,crossed six billion mark, tons of tons of wastes are generated everyday. These wastes can again be turned into resources if some care Is taken in discharge and disposal of these wastes at source. The most essential requirement is
separation of the wastes at source. For example plastics, biodegradable wastes, scrap etc. can each be thrown in separate waste bins and then either sold to respective scrap waste dealers or thrown in separate municipal bins.

Some of the important recycling processes presently available are : Recycled paper and boards from waste paper and rags;
recycled ply boards from saw dust, husk, wood and other materials; steel from scap; silver from old photographic films, photographic paper and from many laboratory solutions; chemicals and oils from many waste substances. Energy like biogas is also obtained from various organic wastes of human and animal origin. In India, hundreds of villages have been electrified and provided piped gas obtained from wastes.

Need For Planning of Resources

Resources that man uses are distributed over the earth in an uneven and discontinuous system. The development of resources, as we have seen, depends on several factors. Nor can all the resources in an area be used all at once. Therefore some important factors are associated with planning of resources.

1. Steps in Planning of Resources
In order to correlate resources to their needs, following steps are essential for planning of resources.
(a) Survey: This is done by an expert body like the Geological Survey of India in the case of mineral resources. They use various methods and techniques to identify and locate resources in certain geographic areas. Similarly animal resources, land resources, forest resources may be surveyed and identified by respective expert bodies specialized in their respective field of interest.
(b) Potential Resources : These are the type of resources likely to exist in an area or the region. For example, India has vast potential human resources which if channelized properly can make a miracle happen on earth. Moreover such resources are not properly developed therefore, identification and development of potential resources is an important step in planning of resources.
(c) Reserves : These are the deposits of resources which can be developed economically. Not all potential resources can be turned into reserves. Reserves have the chief characteristic of being used over time to meet the demands. Use of reserves into resources may lead to their scarcity. Similarly, low grade resources like for example, lignite coal can be converted into a useful reserve with the change in technology and proper planning. Lignite (coal) is today used profitably for making various types of chemicals.
(d) Actual Resources : These are the resources actually identified for use based on available technology. The actual resources are also economical to use.
(e) Reserve : It is that portion of actual resources which can be developed economically at available technology.

2. Importance of Planning of Resources
(i) Conservation of Resources : The greatest need for proper planning of resources arises from conservation of resources or their protection and preservation for future use. Because of huge population growth and environment degradation conservation has become very necessary.  The demand for resources had also considerably risen on account of higher standard of living and rising consumption pattern This is specially true in the case of western countries where consumption patterns today are extravagantly stretched.
(ii) Stabilizing Prices : Increased demand for resources and their short supply tends to raise the prices. The fear of exhaustion leads to undesirable marketing practices like hoarding arid black-marketing
which also push up the prices. Therefore, it is necessary to have a coordinated resource policy to keep the prices in check.
(iii) Problem of Wastes and Pollution: The exploitation of resources leads to accumulation of huge wastes in our environment. Moreover, many resources are also used wastefully either because of inefficient
technology or wasteful consumption patterns. The inefficient technology is characteristic feature of developing countries and wasteful consumption patterns prevail in advanced countries. Both contribute to pollution of our environment in many different ways. For example, mining of coal raises huge dust in our environment. For example, lots of resources are used in canned foods — aluminium cans, glass, paper and boards are daily wasted in tons and tons. Disposal of wastes, associated with agriculture, domestic and industrial, is also today a great problem. While planning for resources steps are needed to be taken in advance before utilizing resources.
(iv) Accidents : Many accidents happen while mining, transporting and using resources. These accidents not only cause loss of life and property but also cause great damage to our environment. Oil leak in oil tankers in oceans can cause great damage to marine life. Transporting coal in open railway wagons in India is threatening our environment. Coal mining is also very hazardous. If no proper planning is done there will be frequent accidents. Detergents, chemicals, pesticides have a disastrous effect on
vegetation, wildlife, fish as well as human life.

Classification of Resources

In geographic studies there is and towards classification of every materials, resources or activities. One of the advantages of this classification is to help understand the features of the geographic area as well as the resources associated with it. For example, when we classify resources based on utility we may divide them into energy resources and raw materials. Raw materials can be of various types like minerals, agricultural products etc. By classifying the resources on this basis we can understand what minerals are and then make further subdivisions. By classifying the resources on the basis of origin we can trace the origin of a particular resource to a geographic area and then understand its physical characteristics. It would be appreciated that in each scheme of classification we make an attempt to assess quantity and quality of the resource as well.

(i) Classification of Resources on the Basis of Origin
On the basis of origin resources are classified into two main types — biotic and abiotic.
(a) Biotic Resources: These are living resources like forests and forest products, agriculture, animals, birds, marine life etc.
(b) Abiotic Resources: These are material resources or non-living things. Examples are minerals like iron ore, copper, land resources, soils etc.

(ii) Classification on the Basis of Renewability
On the basis of renewability there are two main types of resources —renewable and non-renewable.
(a) Renewable Resources: These resources can be renewed after use. They do not get exhausted. Renewable resources are like water, forests, soils. This renewability is possible only under certain conditions. Some trees may also take longer time to grow. For example it takes between 50 to 200 years for a tree to grow in a forests. Availability of fresh and pure water in a river may obtain under certain conditions of environment.
(b) Non-Renewable Resources: These resources get exhausted after use. Resources which cannot be replenished are like fossil fuels—petroleum, gas, coal, and other minerals.

(iii) Classification of Resources Based on Utility
Based on their use and utility resources are classified into Energy resources and Raw materials.
Energy Resources : 
Coal, gas, petroleum, water power and even certain minerals like uranium are used for generation of electricity or as fuels for transport vehicles.
Raw Materials:
Minerals, vegetation, agricultural products, animals etc. form raw materials for production of goods. Even coal, gas, petroleum which are used as energy resources may also be used as raw materials for production of chemicals, fertilizers etc.

Natural and Human Resources

Based on origin, the resources can also be classified into Natural and Human Resources. But this classification can often be misleading. Human beings too are part and parcel of natural resources. Human beings also make resources like houses, waterways or canals, transport vehicles, chemicals and other materials for their own comfort. It is human beings who add value to natural resources and make them useful. Therefore, we need to treat Natural Resources and Human Resources as parts of the same system.
(i) Natural Resources : These are the gifts of nature including human beings which are found useful for making the life of human beings comfortable and worth living. Natural resources include natural vegetation, soils, water, air, minerals and even rocks.
(ii) Human Resources : These are the human beings made valuable trough education, training, experience or in other ways capable of making use of other resources efficiently. In fact human resources are- the most common as well as useful resources of a region or a country. Human resources do not merely mean the number of people living in an area but how the people possess skills, education and have knowledge to develop other resources. Indeed too many human beings without adequate skills, education and training make a nation very poor and may prove a drag on other natural resources.

Factors Influencing Development of Resources

The study of resources forms art important part of Economic Geography. Resources are defined as a country’s collective means of support. This emphasises man’s use of things of nature as well as his own. Generally it is economic geography which is concerned with how man makes a living and how he utilises the resources of the earth. Thus study of resources involves an idea of study of man’s relationship with the environment. Resources satisfy man’s material needs and desires. They have also a dominant influence on man’s physical environment. For the purpose of study of resources man-environment relationship is very complex one. For example, 2000 years ago man was still unaware of a variety of mineral resources in his environment. Just about 250 years ago man knew nothing about petroleum and gas found in rocks. Once their use was known fossil fuels became the most precious resources. It is, therefore, necessary to study the factors which influence the development of resources.

Factors Influencing Development of Resources

It is important to remember that the distribution of known resources of the earth is highly uneven. The resources are made of various constituents and different resources have different uses. The factors which influence development of resources are described in this context.

  1. Technology: It emphasises man’s knowledge, tools available, utilisation as well as the mode of occurrence of any given resource. Technology is also not a static term meaning that it keeps changing. For example when minerals began to be first mined only the main mineral was extracted, rest was all treated as waste material. When man made improvements in technology secondary minerals were extracted from the residues or the wastes. Sometimes these secondary minerals proved more precious than the original. mineral.
  2. Use of Resources : The use to which resources are put also influences their development: For example, the vast Priaries of North America both in Canada and USA have been used for commercial grain cultivation. While wheat in the US-part of the Prairies is grown in winter that in Canadian Prairies it is grown in summer because of severe cold in winter. This use of land resources in both regions influences the development of the resources.
  3. Economic Considerations: Economic considerations like demand for particular resources, continuous availability of resources over a period of time, availability of capital, labour supply to undertake development of resources, the skills they possess, availability of transport and communication are important considerations in the development of resources. In recent times economic considerations like very limited market area, centralisation of industry and alternate forms of transport warrant more realistic targets for resource utilisation. Cost of development of a resource is also an important economic consideration. The assessment of the profitability of an ore and its reserve are often done on cost considerations. Huge reserves alone will warrant development of rail line and transport networks linking the region.
  4. Capacity to Stimulate Demand : Because of rising costs of mining and operations, capacity of a resource to stimulate demand makes it more profitable to continue producing the resource. For example, iron and steel and even coal involve heavy capital expenditure on mining making it virtually uneconomical to produce. In the case of coal changes in technology have enabled even low grade coal like lignite to be used in chemical industry thus helping to stimulate its demand. Similarly development of alloy steels has stimulated demand for metals such as chromium, cobalt, nickel and tungsten etc.