Recycling has certainly been in the news lately — and not all of what you have heard or read or watched has been good news. It’s true that recycling is facing some challenges. But, rest assured, collected materials are still being recycled. Communities are still accepting materials, sorting them, and delivering them to markets where manufacturers are turning them into new products.
Even though commodity prices for recyclables are currently low, your recycling continues to conserve natural resources, reduce water and air pollution in manufacturing, save energy, and create many jobs. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the U.S. scrap industry supports more than 534,000 American jobs. Energy savings achieved by using recycled instead of virgin materials in manufacturing range from 34% for glass to 96% for aluminum.
Changes in global commodity markets, and particularly in what types of materials China is importing, have led to disruption in the marketplace, especially for plastics and mixed paper. Based on what you have heard, you might think that nearly all U.S. recyclables were going to China. However, that was never the case. More than 70% of recyclables nationwide are used in U.S. factories.
The changes to export markets have created opportunities in the U.S., leading to new investments in paper mills and plastic processing facilities. At the same time, many domestic manufacturers are looking for new ways to use the abundant and low-priced materials that had previously been shipped overseas.
Recycling is efficient and practical, and it gives us maximum use of the resources our planet provides us. So keep recycling! Recycling is still a great way to care for our environment and support our economy.
Your local solid waste management entity is working hard to find and maintain markets for recyclables in your community. Please contact them to make sure you are collecting materials which have markets for recycling in your area.
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