by: Leslie Jones

We hear that we should recycle everything we can anytime we can.  We should recycle plastic.  We should recycle paper. We hear it on television, on the radio, at work, at school… get the idea. The fact that we should recycle is clear. Why we should recycle is something altogether different. This may be what we need to be reminded.


  • In 2011 Americans recycled 61 billion aluminum cans, saving the energy equivalent of 17 million barrels of crude oil.


  • Manufacturing cans from recycled aluminum consumes 95 percent less energy than using new materials.


  • Producing new plastic from recycled material uses only two-thirds of the energy required to manufacture it from raw materials.


  • Aluminum and glass can be infinitely recycled back into new containers. An estimated 80 percent of reclaimed glass is processed through bottle-to-bottle recycling, and it can take as little as 30 days for a glass bottle to go from the recycling bin to a supermarket shelf.


  • Recycled glass is substituted for up to 70 percent of raw materials in manufacturing. Bottle-makers benefit from recycling in several ways – it reduces emissions and consumption of raw materials, extends the life of plant equipment, such as furnaces, and saves energy.


  • According to the EPA, approximately 33 percent of the municipal solid waste stream is paper and paperboard products. Paper makes up the largest portion of the municipal waste stream and is also one of the most recovered materials in the nation.


  • Producing recycled paper requires about 60 percent of the energy used to make paper from virgin wood pulp, but energy isn’t the only thing we save through paper recycling.


  • Americans use 100 million steel cans every day. Steel is one of the nation’s most recycled materials, with more than 65 percent of steel produced in the states recycled into new steel each year.


To put those figures into perspective:


  • 1 recycled can can give your iPod the power to play 1 album.


  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours.


  • The energy conserved by recycling just one plastic bottle can light a 60-watt light bulb for six hours or power a computer for 25 minutes.


  • Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, power a computer for 30 minutes or a television for 20 minutes.


  • By recycling 1 ton of paper, we save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 3 cubic yards of landfill space and enough energy to heat an average home for 6 months.


  • Recycling steel saves 75 percent of the energy that would be used to create steel from raw materials, meaning the steel we recycle saves enough energy to power 18 million homes annually.


Imagine what we could do if each of us recycled just one more thing. Keep these figures in mind next time you are looking for a trash can.


For more information on recycling visit our website at