Why Should I Recycle?

Here are some reasons that make it clear why recycling is important

It Saves Money and Creates Jobs!

The first step in the recycling process involves collecting, sorting, and processing recyclable materials. Municipals and private collectors, material recovery and composting facilities, and recyclable material wholesalers are all involved in this first step. These activities employ nearly 10,000 people in Pennsylvania, with a payroll of $284 million and annual sales of $2.3 billion.

Recycling manufacturing involves the actual conversion of recyclables into products. The primary recycling manufacturers in Pennsylvania in order of magnitude are steel mills, plastic converters, paper and paperboard mills, and nonferrous metal manufacturers. Recycling manufacturing employs over 64,000 people with a payroll of almost $2.5 billion and annual sales of over $15.5 billion.

Reuse and re-manufacturing focuses on the refurbishing and repair of products to be reused in their original form. The largest activities are retail sales of used merchandise and reuse of used motor vehicle parts. The amount of value that can be added via this process is limited because of competition from new products. Nevertheless, reuse and manufacturing contributes over 7,000 jobs, a payroll of $115 million and sales of over a half billion dollars.

It Saves the Environment!

By reducing the amount of energy used by industry, recycling not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also helps prevent global climate change. This is because much of the energy used in industrial processes and in transportation involves burning fossil fuels like gasoline, diesel and coal, and other greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. Additional benefits are derived from reduced emissions from incinerators and landfills and by slowing the harvest of trees, which are carbon sinks.

It Saves Energy!

Society’s energy consumption is by recycling. For example, it requires less energy to make a new glass bottle from a recycled one because recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials. Recycling also prolongs the life of the glassmaking equipment. Similarly, making an aluminum can from recycled aluminum uses a fraction of the energy needed to make from bauxite ore. The overall message is since recycled materials have already undergone processing, energy is saved during the manufacturing process.

Did you know…?

  • Recycling paper cuts energy usage in half
  • Every pound of steel recycled saves 5,450 BTUs of energy, enough to light a 60-watt bulb for over 26 hours
  • Recycling a ton of glass saves the equivalent of nine gallons of fuel oil
  • Recycling used aluminum cans requires only about five percent of the energy needed to produce aluminum from bauxite
  • Recycling just one can saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for 3½ hours

It Saves Landfill Space!

How would you feel if you had to eat garbage every day? That’s what we’re doing to the earth and it’s getting full! When the landfills fill up, new landfills will need to be created and landfill tipping fees (the money that waste haulers pay to deposit their material) will go up – along with your curbside collection costs. You may not realize it, but recycling now will save you money later.

It Reduces Emissions of Air and Water Pollutants!

In addition to greenhouse gases, recycling can reduce a range of pollutants from entering the air and water. By decreasing the need to extract and process new raw materials from the earth, recycling can eliminate the pollution associated with the initial stages of a product’s development: material extraction, refining, and processing. These activities pollute the air, land, and water with toxic materials, such as ammonia, carbon monoxide, methane, and sulfur dioxides. Further reductions are achieved as a result of energy saving, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.

It Saves Our Natural Resources!

Reprocessing uses recycled materials to make new products, which reduces the consumption of natural resources. Source reduction, which means preventing waste before it is generated, can further reduce the need for disposal and save even more resources. Recycling often produces better products than those made of virgin materials; for instance, the tin in “tin” cans is more refined (thus more valuable) after being processed for recycling.

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