Reduce, reuse, recycle! November 15 is National Recycling Day, a commemorative day set aside to recognize the importance of recycling to our environment and our economy.
National Recycling Day was established 25 years ago, in 1997, by the National Recycling Coalition.
Its goal was to call attention to recycling, teach people about its benefits, and encourage more people to recycle. It was originally named “America Recycles Day” and is still called that by some recycling advocates.
Benefits of Recycling:
Most people understand it is important to recycle to keep trash out of landfills.
This is certainly true and critically important, however, there are many other important benefits of recycling.
Saves energy –
Less energy is required to recycle scrap and post-consumer trash than to create brand new material from raw components like newly mined ore. In addition to using less energy, recycling material usually uses less water and results in lower emissions compared to manufacturing new material.
Reduces mining and extraction of new virgin materials –
Manufacturing new material–for use in consumer goods, construction, transportation and other needs–requires mining or extraction of raw materials for the building blocks. Metals are fabricated from ore that is mined, paper and cardboard from trees, glass from sand and limestone, and plastic is made from petroleum products. Even if some of these sources are renewable, it is preferable to utilize what we have instead of relying only on the creation of all new materials.
Reduced costs to consumers –
When manufacturers create new goods using recycled components, the end cost for consumers is generally lower. This is because the recycled content used is less expensive than newly created material, due to the energy savings and higher price of newly mined virgin material.
Supports U.S. job creation and manufacturing –
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recycling and related activities in the U.S. accounted for 681,000 jobs and $37.8 billion in wages.
The website “Celebrate Every Day” lists some recycling trivia on its page dedicated to National Recycling Day:
- Single-use water bottles enter our waterways and landfills at a rate of 60 million per day.
- Aluminum is the most recycled material today. The U.S recycles about 65 percent of its aluminum.
- In the U.S. 105,800 cans are recycled every minute.
- Your TV can run for three hours on the amount of energy saved by recycling one can instead of making it from new aluminum.
The EPA website for America Recycles Day points out that the U.S. recycling rate has increased significantly over the years. In 1960, the recycling rate was less than 7 percent, and the current rate is more than 32 percent. Despite this progress, there is still a significant amount of post-consumer recyclables that end up in a landfill. The EPA website includes an abundance of resources to help increase awareness of the importance of recycling and tips for how to increase recycling. Their resources include fact sheets and reports on what you can do to reduce waste, the benefits of recycling, and resources for teachers. Check out epa.gov/recyclingstrategy/america-recycles-day to take advantage of these resources.
Now that its 25 years since the first National Recycling Day, let’s all increase our efforts to get more into curbside bins and recycling centers and less into landfills.
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