Each year, Americans generate millions of tons of trash in the form of wrappings, bottles, boxes, cans, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, phone books, and much, much, more.
Durable goods (tires, appliances, furniture) and nondurable goods (paper, certain disposable products, clothing) account for several million tons of the solid waste stream. Container and packaging waste is a significant component of the nation’s waste stream as well. This material includes glass, aluminum, plastics, steel and other metals, and paper and paperboard.
Recycling Benefits are Numerous:
- Recycling creates local jobs and local tax revenue. Recycling creates 1.1 million U.S. jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales and $37 billion in annual payrolls.
- Well-run recycling programs cost less to operate than waste collection, landfilling, and incineration.
- Recycling conserves natural resources, saves significant energy and reduces greenhouse gases. In 2005, recycling saved the amount of energy used in 9 million homes (900 trillion BTUs).
- Recycling reduces air and water pollutants. A national recycling rate of 30% reduces greenhouse gas emissions as much as removing nearly 25 million cars from the road.
- Less landfill space is required. Recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000.
- Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees.
Simple Things You Can Do To Reduce Solid Waste
- Complete the cycle—buy products made of recycled materials and help provide a market for recyclable materials.
- Buy minimally packaged items.
- Buy products designed for durability. (They are usually less expensive over time.)
- Take your own cloth bag for purchases. Say “no” to plastic bags.
- Take tap water with you in a reusable container instead of buying bottled water.
- Buy reusable products rather than disposable ones.
- Sell or donate goods you are no longer using instead of throwing them out.