By, Caysee Sontheimer
Paper Recycling Facts
To produce each week's Sunday newspapers, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25,000,000 trees a year.
If you had a 15-year-old tree and made it into paper grocery bags, you'd get about 700 of them. A busy supermarket could use all of them in under an hour! This means in one year, one supermarket can go through over 6 million paper bags! Imagine how many supermarkets there are just in the United States!!!
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 amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
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 (2000 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. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution!
The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning that same ton of paper would create 1500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
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 of them 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.
Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam coffee cups every year.
Glass Recycling Facts
Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable!
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 4000 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
About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material!
Every year, each American throws out about 1,200 pounds of organic garbage that can be composted.
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 highest point in Hamilton County, Ohio (near Cincinnati) is "Mount Rumpke." It is actually a mountain of trash at the Rumpke sanitary landfill towering 1045 ft. above sea level.
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.
Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.
On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. This adds up to almost a ton of trash per person, per year.
A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That's a lot of containers -- make sure they're recycled!
Ways to Reduce Wasted Food
- Shop your refrigerator first! Cook or eat what you already have at home before buying more.
- Plan your menu before you go shopping and buy only those things on your menu.
- Buy only what you realistically need and will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it spoils.
- Be creative! If safe and healthy, use the edible parts of food that you normally do not eat. For example, stale bread can be used to make croutons and beet tops can be sautèed for a delicious side dish.
- Nutritious, safe, and untouched food can be donated to food banks to help those in need.
- Freeze, preserve, or can surplus fruits and vegetables - especially abundant seasonal produce.
- At restaurants, order only what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and be aware of side dishes included with entrees. Take home the leftovers and keep them for your next meal.
- At all-you-can-eat buffets, take only what you can eat.
- Compost food scraps rather than throwing them away.
Electronics Donation and Recycling
Donating or recycling consumer electronics conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.
- Recycling one million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 US homes in a year.
- For every million cell phones we recycle, 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
Before Donating or Recycling Your Used Electronics
- For your computer or laptop, consider upgrading the hardware or software instead of buying a brand new product.
- Delete all personal information from your electronics.
- Remove any batteries from your electronics, they may need to be recycled separately.
Where to Donate or Recycle
Manufacturers and retailers offer several options to donate or recycle electronics. Search below to find programs developed by Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants. If you are an original equipment manufacturer or retailer, learn how to Join the SMM Electronics Challenge. Participation in the SMM Electronics Challenge is voluntary. EPA does not endorse any of the participants or their products and services.
How Do I Recycle? Common Recyclables
Paper makes up nearly 30 percent of all wastes Americans throw away each year, more than any other material. Americans recycled about 63 percent of the paper they used in 2010. This recovered paper is used to make new paper products, saving trees and other natural resources. Most community or office recycling programs accept paper and paper products. Check what your community or office program accepts before you put it in the bin. When you go shopping, look for products that are made from recycled paper. Learn more about paper recycling.
Some batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel; therefore, many communities do not allow them to be thrown away with your regular trash. Recycling is always the best option for disposing of used batteries.
- Lead-Acid Car Batteries can be returned to almost any store that sells car batteries. The lead and plastics from the batteries can then be recycled and used to manufacture new products. About 96 percent of lead-acid car batteries are recycled.
- Dry-Cell Batteries are used in a variety of electronics and include alkaline and carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button), and lithium (9-volt, C, AA, coin, button, rechargeable) batteries. Look for in-store recycling bins or community collection events to dispose of these batteries.
- Learn more about battery recycling.
Americans generated 31 million tons of plastics in 2010, about 12 percent of the waste stream. Only eight percent of plastics were recycled in 2010. Some types of plastics are recycled much more than others. Most community recycling programs accept some, but not all, types of plastics. Look for products made from recycled plastic materials. Learn more about plastic recycling.
A System That Works
Recycling is on the rise. Between 1960 and 1980, U.S. recycling rates were between 5 and 10 percent. In 1990 it was 26 percent. Today, the country recycles about 33 percent of its waste.
Some materials have particularly high recycling rates in the United States. For example, nearly all car batteries get recycled.
"Recycling." The New Book of Knowledge. Grolier Online, 2014. Web. 5 Mar. 2014.
Reducing and Reusing Basics
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place. Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy: raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold. As a result, reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment, and save money.
Benefits of Reducing and Reusing
- Prevents pollution caused by reducing the need to harvest new raw materials;
- Saves energy;
- Reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change;
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations;
- Saves money;
- Reduces the amount of waste that will need to be recycled or sent to landfills and incinerators;
- Allows products to be used to their fullest extent.
Ideas on How to Reduce and Reuse
- Buy used. You can find everything from clothes to building materials at specialized reuse centers and consignment shops. Often, used items are less expensive and just as good as new.
- Look for products that use less packaging. When manufacturers make their products with less packaging, they use less raw material. This reduces waste and costs. These extra savings can be passed along to the consumer. Buying in bulk, for example, can reduce packaging and save money.
- Buy reusable over disposable items. Look for items that can be reused; the little things can add up. For example, you can bring your own silverware and cup to work, rather than using disposable items.
- Maintain and repair products, like clothing, tires, and appliances, so that they won't have to be thrown out and replaced as frequently.
- Borrow, rent, or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations, tools, or furniture.
Hope that you will recycle more and more everyday!