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Why Recycling Is Important

As stewards of the environment, we are responsible for preserving and protecting our resources for ourselves and for future generations.

Getting Back to Basics

Recycling is really just common sense, and until the “modern era,” it was a common household activity. Before the 1920s, 70% of U.S. cities ran programs to recycle certain materials. During World War II, industries recycled and reused about 25% of the waste stream. Because of concern for the environment, recycling is again on the upswing. The nation’s composting and recycling rate rose from 7.7% of the waste stream in 1960 to 17% in 1990. It’s currently up to around 33%.

The Garbage Crisis

The world has changed a lot in the past century. From individually packaged food servings to disposable diapers, more garbage is generated now than ever before. The average American discards 4.6 pounds of garbage every day. This garbage, the solid waste stream, goes mostly to landfills, where it’s compacted and buried. As the waste stream continues to grow, so will pressure on our landfills, our resources, and our environment.

Recycling—An Important Part of the Solution

Recycling is one of the easiest ways you can help slow climate change and global warming. By recycling at home, you help significantly lower carbon emissions associated with extracting virgin materials, manufacturing products, and waste disposal.

Last year the amount of energy saved from recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic PET and glass containers, newsprint and corrugated packaging was equivalent to:

  • The amount of electricity consumed by 17.8 million Americans in one year.
  • 29% of nuclear electricity generation in the U.S. in one year.
  • 7.9% of electricity generation from fossil fuels in the U.S. in one year.
  • 11% of the energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the U.S.
  • The energy supplied from 2.7% of imported barrels of crude oil into the U.S.
  • The amount of gasoline used in almost 11 million passenger automobiles in one year.

Information provided by the National Recycling Coalition