America has one of the highest rates of recycling anywhere in the world. However, with the amount of trash in our dump sites, it is clear there is more work to do. It is estimated that 85% of our total waste can be recycled if more people practice recycling and learn more of the benefits. Recycling is a matter of choice and the more a person learns, the more likely they will make a conscious decision to recycle.
What Is Recycling?
The definition of recycling means the collecting, separating, and processing of items that would have been thrown away, and reusing them or re-manufacturing them into new items. An easy way to describe recycling is to think of reducing, reusing, and recycling. The goal is to cut the volume of waste that goes into landfills. Reusing is prolonging the usage of items not needed or used by donating. Finally, recycling materials and having them remade completes the process.
Why Do We Recycle?
There are many reasons why recycling is important. Recycling saves energy and helps environmental conditions. Recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the amount of industrial production. For example, recycling helps save natural resources, such as a tree, when a newspaper is saved and recycled.
How Does Recycling Work?
Recycling is done in three steps. The first step is the collecting and cleaning of recycled materials, next is the production of new products from the raw materials, and finally, the purchasing of recycled products by the consumers. When an item is made from recycled materials, it takes less energy and resources to make, unlike brand new items. There are many items that can be recycled such as cardboard, glass, aluminum cans, lead, and newspaper.
Recovering the paper that we would normally throw away and remaking it into products that are new is the process of recycling paper. There are three types of paper that can be used for recycling: mill broke, pre-consumer waste, and post-consumer waste. Trimmings and other scrap paper are known as mill broke and are recycled at a paper mill. Paper discarded before it was used is known as pre-consumer waste. Paper waste discarded after use, such as old newspapers, office waste, old telephone books, and old magazines are known as post-consumer paper waste. Scrap paper is paper acceptable for recycling.
Plastic recycling is the reprocessing of plastic waste into new plastic material. Approximately 20%-40% less energy is used when old plastic products are recycled compared to manufacturing a new product. Examples of recyclable plastic include water bottles, peanut butter jars, milk cartons, trash bags, shampoo bottles, and liquid laundry soap containers. If the plastic item is marked with a 1 or a 2 on the bottom accompanied by the recycling symbol, it is able to be recycled. The business of plastic recycling creates over 200,000 jobs in the United States.
Other Recyclable Materials
Other materials that are recyclable are rubber (tires, truck bed liners), metals (aluminum ,steel, iron), glass (bottles, windows), and textiles (clothes, towels, tarps). Most cities have a recycle program that includes a weekly pick up from your home of recyclable materials. Normally, a container will be given with a list explaining what is acceptable and what is not.
- Using and Saving Energy Recycling– Information for kids on what recycling is and how to start recycling.
- Benefits of Recycling– A list of common questions of why it is important to recycle.
- Recycling Facts– Informational facts on recycling.
- Kids Recycling Corner– Information for parents and kids including links and games about recycling.
- Kids Booklets– Information for different ways kids can learn to recycle.
- Ways to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle– Learn information and different ways on how to recycle.
- To Recycle, or Not to Recycle– Information on the benefits of recycling and how it helps.
- Is it Recyclable? Related Resources– Information on different ways to recycle, reduce, and reuse items.
- Why Recycle?– Information on items that are recyclable.
- What Can I Recycle– Information on different items that can be recycled.
- Earth Care Lessons – Free lesson plans for recycling