What have you heard about recycling?

January 16, 2024

Recycling has been in the news, and some of the stories sound pretty dire. For example, maybe you’ve heard that much of the plastic produced is never recycled.

But you need the full story. It is true that some plastic is never recycled, BUT that’s because much of the plastic produced makes durable goods — from auto parts to kitchen containers — that are used for decades. Another thing those news stories don’t tell you is that about one-third of plastic packaging, such as bottles, jugs, jars, and tubs, is recycled each year. It also may not have mentioned that manufacturers who use those plastics could use more of them!

The same is true for glass bottles and jars, which can become new bottles and jars, as well as fiberglass. Again, manufacturers could use more of our old glass bottles. Sometimes news stories don’t tell the whole story or show the entire picture.

If instead of “following the news,” you also talked with your local solid waste authority, they would assure you that the materials they collect are recycled. Based on the local recycling markets available to your community, they accept those materials, sort them, and deliver them to markets where manufacturers turn them into new products. And some of the recyclables you collect might even be used at a manufacturing plant nearby.

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 506,000 American jobs. More than 70% of recyclables nationwide are used in U.S. factories. Energy savings achieved by using recycled instead of virgin materials in manufacturing range from 34% for glass to 96% for aluminum.

So please keep recycling! Recycling is still a great way to care for our environment and support our economy.

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