Recycling 101

Facts

  • First, it is important to know that recycling means we take things that are old or that are used and instead of throwing it out, we reuse them or take them to a place that can create new things from them.

 

-Turning our trash into someone else’s treasure! ;)

  • Even though there have been improvements in the technologies used for sorting, awareness campaigns, and tons of financial resources, there has not been an increase in recycling effort.
  • Less than 35% of households and less than 10% of businesses in the U.S. recycle. (EPA 2011)
  • Recycling is very valuable to life (our economy, natural resources, and the environment) that it should be essential to progress us in the right direction - into a better future.
  • Every minute, about 100 acres of rainforests are being cut down.
  • Did you know that if you improperly disposed just a quart of motor oil, 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water would be contaminated by it?
  • Even though motor oil can be recycled, re-refined, and used again because it never wears out, only gets dirty.
  • If we recycled this oil, the need for imported oil would decrease, saving us money and reducing our dependence on it.

 

Aluminum

  • Many aluminum objects can be recycled – such as aluminum beverage cans, gutters, siding, car components, storm window frames, and even lawn furniture.
  • Like the wrappers used for Hersey's kisses - they use up so much aluminum foil that in one day it could be combined to cover over 50 acres of land or about 40 football fields and many don't know that these are recyclable.
  • To save energy that could run a TV for 3 hours or that it would take to produce ½ a gallon of gasoline, all you need to do is recycle 1 can of aluminum.
  • This is because beverage cans are made with more aluminum than any other item.
  • If you were to throw one of these away, 500 years from now it will still be there as a can! This is not at all good for the environment or any animals that live there.
  • This may be why aluminum was once more valuable than even gold!
  • Moreover, aluminum cans may be recycled as many times as you wish! There is no limit!
  • In addition, since every year we use over 80,000,000,000 of these cans, it would be crazy not to recycle them all!
  • After all, it takes much less (95% less energy and water) to recycle a can than to make it from scratch.
  • Everyone is capable of recycling about 25,000 cans during their life span. So why not start today?

 

Paper

  • Every year a 12 foot wall from New York to Seattle could be built from all the paper thrown out in U.S.
  • There would be 95% less contribution to air pollution if we were to make paper from recycled paper.
  • It takes one whole tree to produces only a 3 foot stack of newspaper.
  • 500,000 trees are cut down to make just one week's Sunday paper.
  • We could however save 75,000 trees by recycling just one run of the Sunday paper, but 250,000,000 trees could be saved a year if all of our newspapers were recycled.
  • We could even save 25,000,000 trees a year if everyone in the U.S. was to recycle only 1/10th of their newspapers!
  • Now did you know to make only 700 grocery bags you would need to grow a tree for 15 years?! The sad part is it only takes an hour to use this amount up by most busy supermarkets! It can be estimated that 6 million paper bags are used in one year by only one supermarket! Now multiply that by how many supermarkets there are!!
  • As individuals, we use about 2,000,000,000 trees per year, which is 7 trees per person in the form of wood, paper, and other products! This amount is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years! Moreover, we throw away about 1 billion trees of paper every year in the U.S. alone.
  • For every 2000 pounds or a ton of recycled paper, we save 64% energy, 60lbs less of air pollution, and save 58% of water. This can be broken down to saving 7000 gallons of water, 4000 kilowatts of energy, 380 gallons of oil, 17 trees, and 3 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • Not to mention, if we saved these 17 trees, each year 250 lbs of carbon dioxide could be absorbed from the air, while burning these trees would have the opposite effect and create 1500 lbs of carbon dioxide.
  • If paper mills were to use waste paper rather than new pulp, the construction costs would drop 50-80%.

Cardboard

  • Making a new cardboard requires 75% more energy than recycling one.
  • 46 gallons of oil could be saved by recycling 1 ton of cardboard.
  • Over 400 billion square feet of cardboard is used in corrugated boxes to ship 90% of our products to the United States alone.
  • Cardboard is, however, recycled from almost 80% of all retailers and grocers. Therefore, you can do it too!

 

Plastic

  • To create 1 square feet of carpet or to fill a whole ski jacket of fiber, all that would be needed is 5 recycled plastic bottles (PET).
  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown out every hour in the U.S.
  • In 1 year, a household of two could be powered by the energy used to make a ton of plastic bottles - so recycling them instead means this energy could go towards better things.
  • Twice as much energy is used to burn plastic in an incinerator than is used in recycling them.
  • Sadly, about 1,000,000 sea creatures are killed every year by the plastic bags and garbage thrown into the sea.

 

Glass

  • Did you know glass never wears out? This means it can be recycled and remanufactured unlimited amounts of times!
  • 50% of related water pollution can be eliminated by using recycled glass to make new glass items.
  • Want an 11-watt CFL bulb to light for 20 hours? All you need to do is recycle 1 glass jar! This could also be converted to 20 hours for a fluorescent bulb or 4 hours for a 100-watt light bulb, which 50% less water pollution and 20% less air pollution would result from recycling this jar rather than making a new one.
  • The Empire State Building could be filled twice every 3 weeks from the glass bottles and jars found in landfills - this equals about 28 billion glass items that end up in landfills a year, all of which are recyclable.
  • 385 lbs of waste are produced in mining and transporting raw materials for the production of a ton of glass items. However, this waste can be reduced by more than 80% if only 1/2 of the materials come from recycled glass.
  • Most importantly, it would take over 4,000 years for a glass bottle to decompose and even longer if it is disposed off improperly (ending up in a landfill)!

 

Food Waste (without paper products)

  • 3,000 lbs per second of food is wasted because about half of our food goes to waste in the United States.
  • This makes up 12% of all our solid waste - from leftover foods.
  • However, on site food waste composting is taking place in more business and schools. Meaning you may be able to contribute more easily!
  • Even better is the fact that compost can be sold to farmers and can provide food for farm animals (but it does have to meet regulations if used for food).

 

Compost (food waste with food-soiled paper products)

  • Compost is defined as decayed organic material used as a plant fertilizer.
  • Paper products used with food can be composted into nutrient rich soil and sold to farmers.
  • Unfortunately, 1,200 lbs of organic garbage is thrown out every year by 1 individual in the United States rather than being composted

 

E-Waste (electronic waste)

  • In the United States 2% of all waste came from electronics.
  • It was estimated that 20 million computers became obsolete in under a year in 1998 and 40 million in 2007!
  • 1.8 million tons of e-waste ended up in landfills in 2007 alone.
  • For these reasons, mandatory collection and recycling programs for e-waste have been created in many states! Therefore, it is also in everyone's best interest to recycle such items. 

 

Waste & Landfills

  • Packaging material makes up 1/3 of every dump.
  • About 1,609 lbs of trash is produced by each person per year in the United States, making us the number 1 trash producers in the world! Therefore, 40% of the waste in the world is produced by us, who only makes up about 5% of the world's population :(
  • Mount Rumpke at 1045 feet above sea level, which is the highest point in the Hamilton County in Ohio, is actually a mountain of trash!
  • The United States discards 16,000,000,000 diapers, 1,600,000,000 pens, 2,000,000,000 razor blades, 220,000,000 car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the United States commercial air fleet four times over each year!
  • Out of every 10 dollars spent buying things, 1 dollar or 10% goes for packaging that is thrown away, which makes up 65% of household trash.
  • This averages to 30 dollars per ton to recycle trash, 50 dollars to send it to landfills, and 65-75 dollars to incinerate it.

 

Hazardous Waste

  • Products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW).
  • These ingredients may be dangerous to people or bad for the environment if poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown out with regular trash!
  • That is why they require special care when trying to dispose of them.

 

Per year, as individuals, we produce almost a ton of garbage.

About 4.4 pounds of solid waste are produced by every person a day.

Estimates break this down to 182 gallons of soda, 104 gallons of milk,

29 gallons of juice, and 26 gallons of bottled water.

Think how many containers that is!

That is why it is important to recycle them.

 

 

**These recycling facts have been compiled from various sources (please refer to reference page) including the National Recycling Coalition, the US Environment Protection Agency, and Earth911.org

 

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