What to Recycle
Aluminum Recycling Facts
- A used aluminum can is recycled and back on the grocery shelf as a new can, in as
little as 60 days. That's closed-loop recycling at its finest!
- Used aluminum beverage cans are the most recycled item in the U.S., but other types
of aluminum, such as siding, gutters, car components, storm window frames, and lawn
furniture can also be recycled.
- Because so many of them are recycled, aluminum cans account for less than 1% of the
total U.S. waste stream, according to EPA estimates.
- There is no limit to the number of times an aluminum can may be recycled.
- In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat
and light 18,000,000 homes!
Paper Recycling Facts
- If all newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
- The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made
from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year!
- The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most
is packaging and junk mail.
- In 1993, U.S. paper recovery saved more than 90,000,000 cubic yards of landfill space.
- Each ton (2,000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three
cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water.
- The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less
than the cost of a mill using new pulp.
Plastic Recycling Facts
- Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour! Most are thrown away!
- Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000
sea creatures every year!
- Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
Glass Recycling Facts
- The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for
four hours or a compact fluorescent bulb for 20 hours. It also causes 20% less air
pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
- A modern glass bottle would take 4,000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer
if it's in the landfill.
- Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste
for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of
the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.
Solid Waste and Landfills
- The U.S. is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person
per year. This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.
- The US population discards each year 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 US commercial
air fleet four times over.
- Out of every $10 spent buying things, $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away.
Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
- On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill,
and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.
Miscellaneous Recycling Facts
- An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum
foil to cover over 50 acres of space -- that's almost 40 football fields. All that
foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
- Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!
- A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000
gallons of fresh water.
These recycling facts have been compiled from various sources including the National
Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Earth911.org.