Environmental Benefits of Recycle on the Go
Translate your recycling data into real-life terms. Below is some information to help you measure the environmental impacts of your waste prevention and recycling program. You can also refer to the Waste Reduction Model (WARM) Calculator on the EPA Web site to convert waste reduction values into greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings. Be sure to inform employees, concessionaires, vendors, volunteers, and the public of the results of their efforts.
Recycled aluminum is made into new aluminum cans, pie pans, house siding, small appliances, lawn furniture—in fact, almost everything aluminum can be made from recycled aluminum.
- Recycling aluminum uses less than 5 percent of the energy used to make the original product.
- Recycling one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100 watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours
Recycled plastics are made into motor oil bottles, detergent bottles, pipes, pails, carpets, rulers, benches, pallets, fiberfill, nonfood bottles or containers, and even clothing.
- Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from virgin raw materials.
- Five 2-liter recycled PET bottles produce enough fiberfill to make a ski jacket; 36 recycled bottles can make 1 square yard of carpet.
Recycled glass is made into new glass jars and bottles and other glass products such as fiberglass insulation.
- Producing glass from virgin materials requires 30 percent more energy than producing it from crushed, used glass.
- Recycling 1 ton of glass saves the equivalent of 10 gallons of oil.
Recycled steel is made into steel cans, building materials, and tools—in fact, almost everything steel can be made from recycled steel.
- Recycling steel cans uses between 60 and 74 percent less energy than producing them from raw materials.
- Using recycled steel to make new steel saves energy. In fact, the steel industry saves enough energy in one year to electrically power 18 million homes for one year.
- One ton of recycled steel saves the energy equivalent of 3.6 barrels of oil and 1.49 tons of iron ore.
Recycled paper is made into newspaper, tissue, paper towels, notebook paper, envelopes, copy paper and other paper products, as well as insulation, boxes, hydro-mulch, molded packaging, gypsum wallboard, compost, and even kitty litter.
- Producing recycled paper requires about 60 percent of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp.
- Each of us uses approximately one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per year.
- Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity—enough energy to power the average American home for five months.
- Energy Information Administration Kid’s Page
- Steel Recycling Institute’s “Roscoe’s Recycle Room”
- Bergen County Utilities Authority Recycling Web page
- University of Colorado at Boulder’s Recycling Web page
- “Trashed Cans: The Global Environmental Impacts of Aluminum Can Wasting.”
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