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Eco Facts

What is Recycling and Why Does it Matter?

Written by: Annie Muggia, intern at Blueland

April 25, 2022

As environmental advocates, it is our responsibility to understand the importance of recycling and how it works. Recycling reduces the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and incineration plants. Luckily for you, it only takes one person to recycle to make a difference!

What is Recycling?

In the last few decades, recycling has become increasingly popular in daily life. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling is the “process of collecting and processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash and turning them into new products.” After the materials are recycled, they are sent to a recovery facility to be sorted and processed into useful materials that can be used in manufacturing. These recyclables can then be re-used and benefit other businesses seeking materials.

What Are the Benefits of Recycling?

There are various benefits of recycling, including reducing the amount of waste in landfills, conserving natural resources, increasing economic security, and preventing pollution. Specifically, recycling reduces air and water pollution by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. There are numerous harmful chemicals and gases released in landfill sites, so recycling helps reduce the pollution caused by this waste.  Furthermore, recycling benefits the economy by creating job opportunities across the nation. One study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that recycling in the U.S. accounted for 681,000 jobs and $37.8 billion in wages. The economy receives significant benefits from the recycling industry.

How Much Energy is Saved by Recycling?

Recycling even one time can save an exceptional amount of energy. According to Lake Champlain Resort, “recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.” Annually, the amount of lost energy by recycling materials like aluminum cans is comparable to 15 power plants. Specifically, “recycling of aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from its virgin source.” Recycling is a great way to save energy and participate in environmental conservation.

How Do I Recycle?

There are three basic steps to recycling: collection, manufacturing, and purchasing new products made from recycled materials. First, only certain materials and items can be recycled, including newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, and aluminum foil. Other items like electronics, food, lawn materials, and broken glass cannot be recycled. Luckily, more products are being manufactured with recycled content today. As you walk through the department or grocery store, try to purchase products that can easily be recycled or contain recycled materials. A few of these items include aluminum cans, cereal boxes, egg cartons, and paper towels.


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