The piece of research, which was published in the European Union’s Science for Environment Policy publication, examined a Portuguese recycling facility and found that over its 60-year lifespan the plant would likely produce around 135,000 tonnes of CO2.
However, through implementing more efficient procedures, the plant should prevent emissions of around 1.4m tonnes over the same period.
The results also predicted that the plant would use the equivalent of more than 71,000 tonnes of energy, but would have the capability of conserving as much as eight times that amount.
The researchers noted that the environmental benefits would only be seen should the output material sent from the facility be effectively sorted and efficiently used within the production of new materials.
The study also shows that a reduction in the amount of waste produced would create significant environmental benefits with regard to transporting material, as fewer journeys would be required.
It also suggests that transport to and from the plant will account for more than half of the CO2 emissions amassed by the facility, and that targeting a reduction in journeys would make a considerable difference to reducing the environmental impact.
The researchers were clear to point out that their results have a margin for error as they only take into account CO2 emissions and energy use, but that these are thought to be the predominant attributors to negative environmental impact within recycling plants.