Did You Know?
What is recycling?
Recycling is defined as the act of removing from the overall waste stream those materials that can be reused in their original or reconstituted form. It is the process by which materials are collected and used as raw materials for new products. There are four steps in recycling: 1) collecting the recyclable components of municipal solid waste, 2) separating materials by type, 3) processing them into reusable forms, and 4) purchasing and using the goods made with reprocessed materials. Recycling prevents potentially useful materials from being land filled or combusted, thus preserving our capacity for disposal.
Why bother to recycle?
Interesting facts to support recycling in your office:
- Recycling saves natural resources: Substituting recyclables for raw materials saves the raw material from being used and saves the space in landfills for materials that cannot be recycled.
- Recycling saves energy: Substituting recyclables for new raw materials in manufacturing saves energy. Recycling can conserve 95% of the energy required to manufacture aluminum (enough energy to run a TV set for 3 hours), and from 40-70% of the energy necessary to produce glass, paper, and other metal products. It takes 17 trees and 16,320 kilowatt hours to make 1 ton of paper compared to 5,919 kilowatt hours to make 1 ton of recycled paper; that’s an energy savings of 64%.
- Recycling saves landfill space: In the United States, almost one ton of solid waste per person is collected annually from residential, commercial and institutional sources. Recycling reduces this amount.
- Recycling produces less pollution: 74% less air pollution is produced from the manufacture of recycled paper compared to paper made from raw wood pulp. 35% less water pollution is produced when making recycled paper, and 58% less water is used when making paper from recycled paper instead of virgin pulp. Americans improperly dispose of approximately 220 million gallons of used motor oil every year; that’s 20 times the amount of crude oil the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled in Alaska. One gallon of motor oil improperly disposed has the potential of contaminating 1 million gallons of drinking water; that’s a year’s supply of water for 50 people.
- Recycling stimulates job growth
What is solid waste?
- Over 60% of the garbage going to local landfills is business/industrial waste.
- 37% of the estimated 400 billion copies made by American businesses each year end up in the trash can. It takes over 11 million trees to make that discarded paper.
- An average American worker used between 10-20 pounds of paper per month.
- Approximately 85% of office waste is recyclable paper.
- American businesses use over 21 million tons of paper every year.
- Recycling at work is great public relations for your business. Customers and associates appreciate environmental consciousness.
Solid waste is a fancy term for the things people throw away. Solid waste is material that is considered worthless or unnecessary. Below are some interesting facts. Americans throw away:
What is manufactured from recyclables?
- enough aluminum in three months for the United States to rebuild its entire commercial air fleet
- each year, the equivalent of a 12-foot high wall of office and writing paper that stretches from the New Jersey shore to California.
- 2.5 million plastic bottles -- every hour.
- 31.6 million tons of yard waste (grass, brush, and leaves) each year.
- 2 billion disposable batteries, 350 million disposable lighters, 1 1/2 billion ball-point pens, and 2 billion plastic razors each year.
- 18 billion disposable diapers each year; laid end-to-end they could reach to the moon and back 7 times.
- enough garbage to fill the New Orleans Superdome every 12 hours.
- 43,000 tons of food every day; this is the equal to the weight of 50,000 compact cars.
Recyclables supply industries with raw materials for manufacturing a variety of products.
What are the three R’s? Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle.
- Newsprint and corrugated paper may be used to produce insulation, packaging products, gameboards, building materials, animal bedding, tube or core board, roofing felt and newspaper. Mixed paper and white ledger and printing paper can be made into napkins, facial tissues, paper towels as well as new office paper.
- Plastic bottles can be made into fiberfill for jackets, pillows, rope, filters, insulation, carpeting, flower pots, toys, appliance parts, bath tubs, sinks, "lumber" for decks, boardwalks, picnic tables and benches as well as buckets, paint brushes and videotape holders.
- Steel food and beverage cans can be made into any new steel product.
- Glass bottles and jars can be made into fiberglass insulation, brick making and glassphalt paving material, as well as new glass containers.
- Aluminum cans are made into new aluminum cans and other aluminum products such as lawn chairs and window frames as well as car parts.
- Concrete and asphalt can be crushed and recycled into new concrete or road paving.
- Leaves and grass clippings can be recycled into compost and used as mulch.
- Branches can be chipped for use as landscape mulch.
- Auto batteries can be recycled into new auto batteries.
- Used motor oil can be re-refined into new motor oil.
- Tires can be rethreaded or used to make tire reefs, truck mud guards, road fill, carpet padding, wire & pipe insulation, floor mats, dock and trailer bumpers.
Reuse: Reuse things before recycling or putting them in the garbage. For example:
Reduce: Make less garbage to start with by:
- Reuse containers, boxes, packaging and scrap paper.
- Give away, swap or sell outgrown equipment and toys
- Repair, restyle, recycle into consumes or donate clothing.
- Share, rent or borrow items for special projects or events.
- It it’s broken - fix it!
- Becoming an "Environmental Shopper" - buy products with less packaging and buy products made from recycled content.
- Don’t use disposable products if you can use permanent, reusable, fixable and washable items.
- Bring lunch, snacks or drinks in refillable containers.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Write or make copies on BOTH sides of paper.
What do the three arrows in the recycling symbol mean?
- Use products in containers accepted by local recycling programs.
- Separate and prepare items as directed by your municipality.
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn, it replenishes nutrients.
Collect, Process, Manufacture. All are essential for recycling to work. Separate recyclables as well as purchase items made from recycled process to complete the "loop”.
What do the different numbers molded into plastic containers mean?
- Collect: items recycled by your municipality, company or school. Make sure to prepare them according to instructions.
- Process: Separated materials are cleaned, shredded or baled and sold to industries for manufacturing.
- Manufacture: Material is reprocessed and used to make new consumer products.
Manufacturers of plastic containers have developed a labeling system consisting of code numbers 1 to 7, representing seven types of plastic. Check the bottom of each container for a recycling symbol with the code number inside. Your local municipality can help determine which types of plastics are acceptable in your community. The most acceptable types are #1 and #2. The code numbers, along with their respective types of plastics and most common uses are as follows:
What are some interesting statistics about recycling?
- #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) soda and beverage bottles; also mouthwash bottles, peanut butter jars and some spice and ketchup bottles.
- #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene) usually milk and water jugs, detergents, bleaches and cleaners
- #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) telephone cable, floor mats, irrigation pipe, truck bed liners, garbage cans
- #4 LDPE (low density polyethylene) trash bags, grocery bags, fiberfill for pillows, pipe, plastic lumber
- #5 PP (polypropylene) carpet backing, auto battery cases, video cassette cases, plastic lumber
- #6 PS (polystyrene) food trays, cups, silverware, toys, plastic lumber, garbage cans, insulation, combs
- #7 Other plastic lumber, parking lot backstops, barrier retainers, fencing, sign posts, pallets, picnic tables, playground equipment, and flooring
Source of information: ANJR Website
- Hotels will create 1.5 pounds of solid waste per day per room
- 1 ton of solid waste is equal to 3.5 cubic yards of solid waste
- Each person produces 3.5 pounds of solid waste per day
- There are 6 two liter bottles in one pound of PET
- One three foot stack of newspapers is equal to one tree, approximately 30 feet tall
- One three foot stack of newspaper weighs 100 pounds
- To make one ton of virgin paper uses 17 trees (3 2/3 acres of forest)
- 62,860 trees must be cut to provide pulp for a single edition of the Sunday New York Times.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves the energy equivalent to one cup of gasoline.
- A steel mill can reduce its water pollution 76% and mining wastes 97% using scrap metal, such as steel cans, instead of iron ore.
- In the summer, nearly one third of all summer waste handled by garbage hauylers consists of grass clippings.
- In the fall, leaves comprise as much as half of all waste generated by residents.
- One dollar out of every $11 spent on groceries goes to pay for packaging
- 32% of all municipal waste is from packaging.
- US citizens consume more goods per capita than any other nation in the world. Each year we throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire American Airlines air fleet 71 times, enough steel to reconstruct Manhattan and enough wood and paper to heat 5 million homes of 200 years.