Continuing the City of Edgewater Sustainability Board invitation to join in new practices this year, we offer the following information.
Recycling is a daily activity for more than 100 million Americans and a great way to protect our environment and stimulate our economy. The environmental and economic premise of recycling is sound; reusing natural resources over and over again after they have been extracted from the earth makes good sense.
The processes used to make consumer goods from recycled material instead of raw resources are energy and water efficient. Recycled paper uses 60 to 70 percent less energy than virgin pulp and 55 percent less water.
Keeping waste out of landfills also makes economic sense. These landfills have cost taxpayers millions of dollars to clean up and monitor, a process that is likely to continue for many decades into the future. For industry experts, the question isn’t if a landfill is going to leak toxins, but when.
What are the problems with recycling plastics?
When glass, paper and cans are recycled, they become similar products which can be used and recycled over and over again.
With plastics recycling, however, there is usually only a single re-use. Most bottles and jugs don’t become food and beverage containers again. For example, pop bottles might become carpet or stuffing for sleeping bags. Milk jugs are often made into plastic lumber, recycling bins and toys.
Why can’t I recycle all plastics?
Just as with different types of paper, all plastics could be recycled if there were a market, i.e., a manufacturer who would use them to make a new product. There are some problems with plastic recycling that limit the market for some types.
Currently only about 7 percent of all plastics generated is recycled compared to 62 percent of paper and 35 percent of metals. Recycling papers, metal and glass materials that are easily recycled more than once saves far more resources than are saved with plastics recycling.
Recycling creates a closed-loop system where unwanted products are returned back to manufacturers for use in new products. This prevents the pollution and destruction that occurs when virgin materials – like trees and precious metals – are extracted from the earth.
Please check out our Sustainability Board information at www.EdgewaterCO.com/Sustainability.
Sources: Eco-Cycle and Environmental Protection Agency.
Contact Edgewater Sustainability Board Member Jeannette Papp at: JPapp@EdgewaterCO.com