Don't let your garbage go to waste.Today, as natural resources become scarcer and manufacturing costs rise, recycling is more important than ever. Waste Management is working to find the most efficient and forward-thinking approach to handling waste. With your help, we can work to reduce our environmental impact and manage materials more effectively.
By recycling you are helping to save energy, reduce water pollution, reduce water consumption, preserve natural resources and create jobs.
- Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum from raw materials. The energy saved from recycling one ton of aluminum is equal to the amount of electricity the average home uses over 10 years (Keep America Beautiful)
- Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity - enough energy to power the average American home for five months. (EPA)
- Recycling one ton of plastic milk jugs saves enough energy to light a home for a year (EPA)
- Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates one job; landfilling 10,000 tons of waste creates six jobs; recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs. (EPA, "Resource Conservation Challenge: Campaigning Against Waste," EPA 530-F-02-033, 2002)
* Due to restricted markets, Glass recycling is only offered in select areas. Check your local recycling guide to determine if glass bottles and jars are accepted in your local recycling program.
Composting your yard and food waste helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve soil quality, reduce the need for chemicals and fertilizers and save water.
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When organic material breaks down in a landfill, methane gas is released. Methane has 23 times the heat trapping power of CO2. Although many of our local landfills have methane collection systems, not all of the methane is captured in these systems. By composting, you are helping to decrease the release of greenhouse gases.
- Improve soil quality. Composting breaks down the nutrients that are in the foods, papers and plant materials that are composted. These nutrients are incorporated into the soil when compost is applied.
- Reduce the need for chemicals and fertilizers. When the nutrients from compost are added to soil, there is less of a need to use chemicals and fertilizers. Chemicals and fertilizers disrupt waterways and ecosystems by adding toxic substances and excess nutrients.
- Save water. When compost is applied, it acts like a sponge and helps increase the soil's ability to retain moisture. Compost is an important part of farming and gardening in a drought.
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Why Waste Matters
The materials that we consume and dispose of everyday are all made of finite natural resources. Reducing our consumption, reusing products and recycling waste materials helps to conserve the natural resources associated with producing these products.
The 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Managing waste effectively requires us to think about all 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. To minimize our environmental impact, we must first reduce our consumption, then reuse items as much as possible and recycle, only as an alternative to landfilling our waste. Reducing and reusing waste is not only better for the planet, it can also be fun and save money. The 3 R's are often used interchangeably, but are very different concepts.
- Reduce: To buy or use less. Purchasing an item with less packaging, checking books out at the library instead of buying books and sharing tools with a neighbor instead of buying your own are all ways to reduce consumption.
- Reuse: To use an item again, rather than disposing it. Common types of reuse include using plastic grocery bags as garbage bags, making crafts out of waste materials or buying milk in refillable jars.
- Recycle: To use discarded material to create a new product. Recycling is the process of turning a waste product into something new, making toilet paper out of old paper or using old aluminum cans to make bike frames. Recycling is a great alternative to landfilling waste, but still utilizes large amounts of energy and water relative to reducing and reusing.
If we recycle all of our waste materials without purchasing products made with recycled content, we cannot utilize the materials we put in our recycling bins. They have nothing to be made into. Local recycling programs depend on consumers purchasing products made from recycled content. This completes the recycling process - that's why we call it closing the loop.
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