Benefits of Recycling
While many people know general recycling facts, they may not be aware of all of the benefits of recycling.
Reduce Material Consumption
One of the largest benefits of recycling is the ability to preserve more virgin materials for later use. While some materials have a limited amount of times that they can be recycled, many others can theoretically be recycled an infinite number of times. This is true of most metals, particularly aluminum and steel.
Reduce Energy Consumption
Often the energy required to recycle materials is far less than the energy required to make a product out of new materials. Recycled aluminum, for example, saves 95 percent of the amount of energy it takes to create it from virgin materials. Other materials save amounts that are more modest. Recycled glass, for example, only saves about 40 percent of the initial energy investment.
Reduce the Size of Landfills
Landfill size can be drastically reduced with an aggressive recycling program. Reducing landfill size not only leaves more land for other uses, but also minimizes the amount of energy required to remove and eventually relocate trash.
When considering the size of landfills, also take into account the wasted area around the landfill. Land adjacent to landfills is often only for industrial sites. Air pollution makes it even less likely that nearby land can be used for other purposes.
Waste often creates water pollution by leaching chemicals into the soil. While some of these chemicals are filtered out by the soil, other pollutants go on to damage ground water sources. Air pollution is also a great concern. Methane and other gases released in landfills contribute to global warming problems as well as air quality concerns.
Recycling is more labor intensive than landfill management, requiring more workers to sort and process recyclable waste. This can revitalize rural areas where landfills are often located, bringing needed jobs to the region. These manual skill jobs are particularly beneficial in areas that were once manufacturing centers.
Recycling Tips to Keep in Mind
If you are aware of the need to save resources and to reuse products, or help out so that they can be used again, then you are well on the road to recycling. Today recycling is commonplace in the United States. Whereas ten years ago many were unfamiliar with this practice, now schools, businesses, churches and offices, as well as homes are on the track to recycling.
Keep the following tips handy:
- Use your recycling bin both at home and in your office. Offices generate a lot of paper usage and waste.
- Learn to think about products and whether or not they are biodegradable (easily decomposed).
- Buy items that are made from resources that can be recycled. For example, every year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups. Although convenient to use, these cups are not recyclable and therefore take up precious landfill space.
- Teach your children and those around you to make recycling cans, glass and paper a lifestyle practice.
Key Recycling Facts
For those who want to know why recycling is important, consider these facts:
- Most new aluminum cans are made from 50 percent recycled aluminum.
- Enough energy is saved by recycling one aluminum can to run a TV set for three hours.
- A steel mill which uses recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by at least 70 percent.
- Recycled aluminum is made into pie pans, new cans, house siding, small appliances, and lawn furniture.
- Creating one ton of recycled paper uses only about 60 percent of the energy needed to make a ton of virgin paper.
- Seventeen trees are saved for each ton of recycled newspaper.
- The average American uses 650 pounds of paper during the course of one year. 100 million tons of wood could be saved each year if all the used paper was recycled.
- Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74 percent of the energy necessary to produce them.
- If every American household recycled one out of every ten HDPE (high density polyethylene) bottles, this would keep 200 million pounds of plastic out of landfills every year.
- Today most bottles and jars contain at least 25 percent recycled glass.
- Recycled plastic is made into plastic lumber, clothing, insulation for sleeping bags and ski jackets, flower pots and car bumpers.
In the US, 95 percent of scrap automobiles were recycled in 2000. This was at a rate of 25 cars every minute.