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Recycling Facts

Read a few fun and interesting facts about recycling.

  • Remember the myth of the paperless office? It never happened! Since 1965 the amount of paper Americans use has doubled. Other options...use email, get your name off junk mail lists, copy on both sides of the paper and review copy carefully before pushing the Print key. 1
  • For every ton of paper we recycle we save:
    • 8000 gallons of water
    • 3 Cu. Yd. landfill space
    • 1/2 the energy it takes to make paper from wood
    • reduces pollution to water by 35% and to the air by 73%
    • Leaves 15-17 trees standing for sustainable forestry, habitat, erosion control, to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. 1
  • Cans of Steel: Steel is the material Americans recycle most. More than 560 steel cans are recycled each second! The cans that soup, dog food, and other foods come in are often called "tin cans." Actually these cans are made of steel and lined with a thin layer of tin. A ton of these cans contains less than four pounds of tin. 1
  • Paper Nation: Americans use paper more than any other material--600 pounds per person! In the United States people throw away 75 million tons of paper each year. But there's good news: Half of the paper that is discarded is recycled, and each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees. 1
  • Glass Lasts! When is it okay to ride your bike on broken glass? When the road is made of "glass-phalt," a mixture of asphalt and crushed glass. Glass can be recycled over and over again without losing its strength. Most of the 13 million glass bottles and jars that Americans recycle every day are melted down and made into new bottles and jars. 1
  • Poly Folly: Out with Styrofoam, in with polystyrene! That's the correct name for the plastic-foam material that many drinking cups, egg cartons, and fast-food containers are made of. Americans use 25 billion polystyrene cups each year - enough cups to circle the Earth more than 400 times! Even though we throw away most of the poly-styrene we use, it makes up no more than one percent of all trash in landfills. 1
  • Running on Aluminum: Each year Americans use 35 billion aluminum cans. Recycling just one soda can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours or make 19 more aluminum cans. Here's how: Making a can takes energy, but it takes more energy to make a can from scratch than to recycle one that's already made. So recycling saves energy! 1
  • The United States, with 5 percent of the world's population, emits 23 percent of the world's man-made carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas chiefly responsible for global warming. 2
  • Per capita automobile gasoline consumption in the two countries was nine times the world average, while per capita consumption of wood, paper and other forest products was 4.4 times the global average. 2
  • North America's overall "ecological footprint" - the amount that consumption exceeds the regenerative capacity of the Earth - was four times greater than the world average. 2


1: National Geographic World, Apr2000 Issue 296, p4, 1p, 1bw Author(s): Kranking, Kathy Abstract: Discusses information on trash recycling.

2: Source: 8/14/02 Scripps Howard News Service article by Joan Lowy about a new United Nations report on environmental issues and challenges in North America

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