Did you know…?
- Half the nation’s aluminum cans are made from recycled aluminum
- Much of the aluminum, glass, paper, and steel used for packaging today is already recycled
- One-quarter of the raw fibers used in the paper industry are from recycled paper products
- Glass and steel used in containers can be recycled over and over
What is recycling?
Recycling is the process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products. Recycling can benefit your community and the environment. Recycling has three steps: collection & processing, manufacturing, and purchasing new products made from recycled material. These steps create a continuous loop, represented by the familiar recycling symbol.
What are we doing about it?
Pennsylvania made recycling the law in July 1988 with Act 101, the Municipal Waste Planning, Recycling, and Waste Reduction Act. This act requires landfills and resource-recovery (waste-to-energy) operations to establish recyclable drop-off centers accessible to the public so that people who take their own trash to a landfill can also recycle. All of these elements of Act 101 create a comprehensive program that will allow everyone to participate in the recycling and waste reduction effort.
By 2006, nearly 10.2 million people and all state agencies participated in the recycling effort. While curbside recycling is mandatory in 457 communities with populations greater than 5,000, over 500 additional communities have developed curbside recycling programs voluntarily. More than 420 other communities are served by municipal drop-off centers for recyclables. Plus, over 3,000 commercial drop-off centers provide recycling opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.
The recycling of aluminum and steel cans, cardboard, glass, newspapers and certain plastics is a growing industry in Pennsylvania. Already more than 140 Pennsylvania businesses are using recyclables collected by the state’s recycling programs to make new products like glass containers, office paper, laundry detergent bottles, steel framing, roofing, and pipes, steel sheet for cars and cans, and much more. Recyclables kept separate from household waste are collected at recycling programs. Collected materials are further sorted and processed for sale to manufacturers in Pennsylvania and other states.
Money earned from the sale of recyclable materials can benefit the individual recycler or help communities and companies offset operating costs for recycling. Recycling also allows some communities to reduce waste disposal costs.
What are some common household recyclables & how should you handle them?
The following materials take up valuable space in landfills and can interfere with the burning process in waste incinerators.
Check with your municipality for curbside programs in your area or visit the Waste Authority’s list of acceptable & unacceptable items for deposit at our drop-off locations.
- Making products from recycled glass uses less energy than starting from scratch. Recycled glass is made into new beverage bottles, food jars, insulation, & other construction materials.
- Some recycling programs may ask you to separate glass containers by color. Many curbside recycling programs will collect clear and colored glass containers and separate them for you.
- DO NOT include window glass, ceramics, light bulbs, or ovenware, because these items can damage a glass manufacturer’s furnace.
- Newspapers are commonly recycled into paperboard, new newsprint, insulation and animal bedding products. Recycling newspapers saves valuable space in landfills.
- Put newspapers in paper bags or tie in bundles with string. In general, you can include any inserts (advertisements, comics) originally delivered with the paper.
Other paper products
- Office paper can be recycled into other writing paper, tissue, and towel products. Corrugated cardboard is used to make new paperboard and corrugated boxes.
- These materials should be handled in the same way as newsprint: store in paper bags or tie in bundles.
- Aluminum is the most valuable of household recyclables. Aluminum cans are recycled to produce new aluminum cans. By recycling aluminum cans, you are helping to conserve energy.
- To make sure that a can is aluminum, use a magnet and see that it DOES NOT stick to the can’s top and sides. Rinse the cans to prevent attracting insects.
- Other sources of household aluminum such as clean aluminum foil, clean pie tins, aluminum siding, and the metal frames of aluminum lawn furniture also can be recycled.
- Steel cans are eagerly sought by the steel industry because they are a good source of steel scrap and their tin coating also can be recovered and recycled.
- To make sure a can is steel, use a magnet and see that it DOES stick to the can’s top and sides. Rinse the case to prevent attracting insects.
- The plastic bottles you recycle could end up as carpet backing, sleeping bag insulation, tool handles, auto parts, trash cans, flower pots, plastic pipes, or even clothing.
- Don’t forget to rinse bottles before recycling. It is important that you recycle only types of plastics that your community or hauler specifies.
Leaves & yard debris
- Leaves, twigs, and trimmings take up a lot of space and should be taken care of properly to save valuable landfill space.
- Leaves and yard debris quickly reduce in volume if composted or allowed to degrade into a rich mulch that is an excellent plant fertilizer. You can compost in your own backyard.
- Pennsylvania produces about 35 million gallons of used lubricating oil every year. If this oil is dumped into sewers, soil or streams, it can pollute the water that we drink.
- Fortunately, used motor oil can be recycled into heating fuel, industrial lubricants and even new motor oil.
- Your role is simple: store the oil in a sturdy container and take it to an auto repair shop that accepts used oil.
- It’s against the law to dispose of a car (lead-acid) battery with your household trash. This type of battery is recyclable.
- Car batteries must be taken to a recycling center that takes batteries or an automotive battery retailer in exchange for a new one.