Some of the consequences of not recycling include increased environmental pollution, reduced natural resources, increased energy consumption and reductions in the economy. The EPA reports that recycling can help reduce the effects of global climate change, so not recycling may also contribute to increased climate change.
Recycling is one of the most effective alternative waste management solutions, and without it, garbage winds up either buried in a landfill or incinerated at a waste-to-energy facility. Both options pose problems. Landfill space is limited, and increased trash production would necessitate either the creation of new landfills or some other disposal method. Waste-to-energy facilities can theoretically eliminate infinite amounts of waste, but they also generate environmentally hazardous materials in the process.
Recycling also helps conserve natural resources. Without recycling, Earth's increasingly finite resources, such as timber, mineral ores and water, would be in even shorter supply. Increased use of natural resources would also affect natural habitats and biodiversity negatively. Recycling also dramatically reduces energy consumption. It takes far less energy to reprocess used materials than to extract, process and manufacture natural resources into new products. Without recycling, production of many consumer goods would require more energy and increase costs.
Another economic impact would be the elimination of jobs. The recycling industry creates hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States alone, and eliminating recycling would mean eliminating all of these positions.