The amount of our natural resources is limited and waste is a problem that has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. The benefits of recycling affect us all and can be understood by considering the following statistics:
Recycling creates over one million U.S. jobs.
Recycling prevents millions of tons of material from being dumped into landfills and incinerators a year, and increases every year.
Manufacturing with recycled materials saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
Recycling reduces the need for mining. Mining is one of the world's most deadly occupations.
The aluminum can is the most valuable beverage container to recycle. By doing so, its recycling provides economic benefits to El Paso and communities and organizations across the country. Aluminum is everywhere. We see it in soft drink cans, beer cans, pie plates, foil, packaging, siding, gutters, and more. Take a small walk around the block and you will probably notice it in at least a few places. Aluminum is practically the perfect recyclable material. Out of the most common recyclable materials that clutter up our landfills, aluminum is the only material that's endlessly recyclable, and that pays for itself. Here are some other interesting facts:
Recycling Aluminum makes good sense. Americans throw away billions of aluminum cans every year. Recycling Aluminum saves 95% of the energy needed to make aluminum from bauxite ore.
More than 50 percent of the aluminum cans produced is recycled.
Aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal. Much of the aluminum ever produced is still in use today.
Every minute, tens of thousands of aluminum cans are recycled.
Aluminum can be recycled over and over without breaking down. In theory, we have an inexhaustible supply of it in circulation right now. If we recycled all our aluminum, we'd never have to make more.
Making new aluminum cans from used cans takes 95 percent less energy than using virgin materials.
Because our landfills have aluminum cans, some landfills incinerate extra aluminum. This is not only wasteful but it also pours toxic metals and gases into the atmosphere.
Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or running your television for three hours.
In 1972, 1 pound of aluminum cans was equivalent to about 22 empty cans. Due to advanced technology using less material and increasing the durability of aluminum cans, as of 2002, 1 pound of aluminum cans is equivalent to about 34 empty cans.
Aluminum recycles in no time at all. When you send a can to a recycling depot, it's processed, recycled, and back on the shelf again in a few months.
The Earth receives an amazing supply of energy from the sun. Solar energy is a free and inexhaustible resource that can be captured and used to supply power for homes and businesses.
There are many advantages to solar power. A home solar system is non-polluting, has no moving parts and requires little maintenance with no supervision. As the price of solar power decreases, the popularity continues to grow throughout the globe. Solar panel installation is relatively easy and can be completed in a very short period of time. It has remained an excellent energy option, even as other alternative energy solutions have been waning.
Paper is a versatile and important material that is used in homes, schools, offices and businesses throughout the world. We enjoy the benefits of paper products in the newspaper we read in the morning, the box that holds our cereal, the paper we use for homework and business documents that mark significant achievements of our lives.
Every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves about 17 trees.
When trees are harvested for papermaking, carbon is released, generally in the form of carbon dioxide. When the rate of carbon absorption exceeds the rate of release, carbon is said to be "sequestered." This carbon sequestration reduces greenhouse gas concentrations by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Source reduction is the
process of reducing the volume or toxicity of waste generated.
One form of source reduction is "lightweighting." Lightweighting means reducing the weight and/or volume of a package or container, which saves energy and raw materials. As early as 1983, companies manufacturing food service disposables began reducing the weight of plates, bowls, containers, trays and other tableware. Manufacturers of paper food service disposables have been able to source reduce by decreasing the paper stock required to manufacture food service containers and coating the containers with a very thin layer of polyethylene or wax. The coating enables the container to maintain its strength and food-protection functions.
Paper packaging is also a good example of where lightweighting has been achieved. Product manufacturers work with their packaging suppliers to identify the best combination of effective protection for the product using the lightest weight package.