Some Basic Facts About Recycling

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Occasionally you can still hear people say that they don't recycle because it doesn't really help the environment. Here's the real facts.

To produce a ton of aluminum from scratch requires five tons of bauxite & 16,000 kW-hours of electricity. With recycling, you need a ton of old cans and just 750 kW-hours of electricity.

100 million aluminum beverage cans are landfilled, littered or incinerated every day in the U.S. Last year, for the 14th consecutive year, Americans trashed more than 500,000 tons of aluminum cans worth more than $600 million. The average aluminum can contains more than 50 percent post-consumer recycled content.

Steel cans package 97% of canned food on the market. Recycling cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them from raw materials.

Container glass is 100% recyclable. A ton of resources is saved for every ton of glass recycled: 1,330 lbs. of sand, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone, & 151 pounds of feldspar. A ton of glass produced from raw materials creates 384 pounds of waste. Using 50% recycled glass cuts the waste by 75%. Recycling 1 glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours.

Mixed paper (glossy paper, catalogs, junk mail, etc.) is used to make products such as packaging boxes for cereal, crackers, cake mixes, & detergent. Recycling a single printing of the Sunday edition of the New York Times could leave 75,000 trees standing. Old newspaper is turned into new newsprint, paperboard, packaging, construction paper, cellulose insulation for construction materials, and bedding for farm animals. A ton of recycled office paper equals 17 trees in paper production.

Production of recycled paper uses 80% less water, 65% less energy and produces 95% less air pollution than virgin paper production. "U.S. businesses alone consume an estimated 21 million tons of office paper every year - the equivalent of more than 350 million trees. If offices throughout the country increased the rate of two-sided photocopying from the 1991 figure of 20% to 60%, they could save the equivalent of about 15 million trees." American businesses throw away enough scrap paper each year to fill nearly 20 Sears Towers from top to bottom.


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