Interesting Recycling Facts

Recycling information has changed over the years. In the 1980’s and 1990’s we were told to remove the cap from plastic bottles, whereas NOW we are told to leave the cap on. In previous times we crushed the aluminum cans down flat, but now Green For Life (our state recycler) requests that we NOT crush the can, but leave it whole.

While the majority of individuals have good intentions when recycling, 62% of Americans worry that a lack of knowledge is causing them to recycle incorrectly. These concerns stem from an absence of recycling information and a general misunderstanding of what can and can’t be recycled.

Read on to explore interesting recycling facts and to understand how we can improve recycling practices now and in the future. 

  • Recycling cardboard only takes 75% of the energy required to make new cardboard. 80% of retailers and grocers recycle cardboard. One ton of recycled cardboard saves 46 gallons of oil. 
  • The U.S. produces 34 million tons of food waste each year. About 137.7 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is landfilled.
  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown away every hour in America. Recycling plastics takes 88% less energy than making it from raw materials. Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Styrofoam never decomposes. 
  • A glass bottle would take 4,000 years or more to decompose – and even longer in a landfill. Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss to quality or purity. 
  • Americans use 85 million tons of paper per year which is about 680 pounds per person. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 mature trees. 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year. 
  • The average person has the opportunity to recycle more than 25,000 cans in their life. Aluminum can be recycled forever without any loss of quality. 
  • 11 million tons of textiles end up in U.S. landfills each year – an average of about 70 pounds per person. 
  • 1.8 million tons of e-waste ends up in landfills. 
  • The average person generates 4.4 pounds of solid waste every day. EPA estimates that 75% of waste streams are recyclable, but we only recycle about 30% of it. 

We hope you find these facts to be as interesting as we do! 

Sources: Waste Watchers Blog, 

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