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How Recycling Benefits Your World – Top Facts

This is where you might expect me to overwhelm you with numbers about crucial benefits of recycling in 2022 and beyond, figures and facts that are supposed to scare or guilt you into recycling because if you don’t the world will end.

While it’s true that there are numerous downsides to NOT recycling, I like to focus on the positive.

So let’s discuss recycling benefits.

Economic Recycling Benefits and Facts

Information supplied by: National Recycling Coalition

  • Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration.
  • The more people recycle, the cheaper it gets.
  • Two years after calling recycling a $40 million drain on the city, New York City leaders realized that a redesigned, efficient recycling system could actually save the city $20 million and they have now signed a 20-year recycling contract.
  • Recycling helps families save money, especially in communities with pay-as-you-throw programs.
    Well-designed programs save money. Communities have many options available to make their programs more cost-effective, including maximizing their recycling rates, implementing pay-as-you-throw programs, and including incentives in waste management contracts that encourage disposal companies to recycle more and dispose of less.
  • Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.
  • Public sector investment in local recycling programs pays great dividends by creating private sector jobs. For every job collecting recyclables, there are 26 jobs in processing the materials and manufacturing them into new products.
  • Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries.
  • Thousands of U.S. companies have saved millions of dollars through their voluntary recycling programs. They wouldn’t recycle if it didn’t make economic sense.

Environmental Recycling Benefits and Facts

information supplied by: National Recycling Coalition

  • Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990-doubling in just 10 years.
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
  • The energy we save when we recycle one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours.
  • Recycling benefits the air and water by creating a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants.
  • In the U.S., processing minerals contribute almost half of all reported toxic emissions from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollution into the air and water each year. Recycling can significantly reduce these emissions.
  • It is important to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Recycling helps us do that by saving energy.
  • Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials.
  • It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspaper 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%. These savings far outweigh the energy created as by-products of incineration and landfilling.
  • In 2000, recycling resulted in an annual energy savings equal to the amount of energy used in 6 million homes (over 660 trillion BTUs). In 2005, recycling is conservatively projected to save the amount of energy used in 9 million homes (900 trillion BTUs).
  • A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources, such as timber, water, and minerals.
  • Every bit of recycling makes a difference. For example, one year of recycling on just one college campus, Stanford University, saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.
  • Recycled paper supplies more than 37% of the raw materials used to make new paper products in the U.S. Without recycling, this material would come from trees. Every ton of newsprint or mixed paper recycled is the equivalent of 12 trees. Every ton of office paper recycled is the equivalent of 24 trees.
  • When one ton of steel is recycled, 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,400 pounds of coal and 120 pounds of limestone are conserved.
  • Brutal wars over natural resources, including timber and minerals, have killed or displaced more than 20 million people and are raising at least $12 billion a year for rebels, warlords, and repressive governments. Recycling eases the demand for resources.
  • Mining is the world’s most deadly occupation. On average, 40 mine workers are killed on the job each day, and many more are injured. Recycling reduces the need for mining.
  • Tree farms and reclaimed mines are not ecologically equivalent to natural forests and ecosystems.
  • Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.

Phew, that was a lot of recycling benefits to absorb and digest and guess what, I only scratched the surface.

But the bottom line is, recycling benefits both the economy AND the environment. And what benefits the economy and environment benefit me and you and the rest of the world.

So if you’re ready to learn more, read on. For you information junkies, I’ve included an even more exhaustive
list of recycling benefits and facts here…

These recycling facts have been compiled from various sources including the National Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Earth911. We welcome all polite corrections to our information or for additions to this list. Feel free to use any information listed on our site for your own not-for-profit educational purposes.

Final Thoughts

Recycling benefits all of society as it helps keep our world clean with innovative fresh ideas to cut down on harmful waste.