Recycling is economically beneficial, energy efficient, and environmentally smart. Economic Gain:

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1 Recycling: An examination of the benefits of recycling, recyclable materials, the Indianapolis recycling program, and other Midwest recycling programs. By Many have been taught to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but what exactly does the process of recycling entail? The three arrows represent the three components of recycling: Collection: First, recyclable materials must be separated from the solid waste stream 1. Manufacturing: Companies must want the recyclable materials to make their products out of 1. Buying: Consumers must buy the products made of recycled materials so that the companies continue to make them 1. All components of recycling are dependent on one another 1. If people do not separate items to recycle and be taken to recycling facilities in the first place, then the process cannot begin. If companies do not want to make products out of recycled materials (which happens sometimes because the process is occasionally more costly, or the companies might need new equipment), then there is no reason to recycle in the first place. Lastly, if consumers do not buy recycled products, then there will be no market and no incentive for companies to produce these products. Recycling is economically beneficial, energy efficient, and environmentally smart. Economic Gain: Recycling has created jobs for approximately 1.1 million people throughout the nation 2. Recycling reduces the costs of transporting garbage to landfills and incinerators by nearly %70 3! 1 David R. Powelson and Melinda A. Powelson, Recycler s Manual for Business, Government, and the Environmental Community (New York City: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992). 2 Kivi Leroux Miller, Communications Consultant, National Recycling Economic Information Project. Retreived November 14, 2005 from 3 Allen Hershkowitz, Too Good To Throw Away: Recycling s Proven Record (New York City: Natural Resource Defense Council Publications, 1997).

2 It is more cost-effective to make products out of recycled materials rather than virgin materials. Reusing materials (like re-filling water bottles, using cloth diapers, avoiding paper plates or towels, or using shoe-boxes for storage) saves households money. Energy Efficiencies: It takes less energy for industries to make products out of recycled goods rather than out of raw fiber, ore, oil and other virgin materials. Percent energy saved when making products out of recycled materials rather than virgin materials % Energy Saved 20 0 Newspaper Cardboard Glass Aluminum Steel Plastic* *The energy saved when using plastic varies between 70% and 80% depending on the grade of plastic recycled. The graph shows that, indeed, recycling saves energy. When manufacturing newspaper, 40% is saved, cardboard-20%, glass-50%, aluminum-94%, steel-60%, plastic-75% 3. Energy conservation is closely linked to environmental effects. Everlasting Environment: While saving energy, recycling reduces air and water pollution. Recycling saves trees from being cut down to make paper, which in turn saves ecosystems from being forced to change or being destroyed completely. Recycling reduces emissions of greenhouse gases that are emitted during incineration, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons, which contribute to global climate change. 3 Hershkowitz,

3 Recycling paper saves billions of gallons of water that are usually wasted when making paper from virgin materials. In the U.S. alone, plastic making companies emitted 111 million tons of toxic air emissions as well as polluting water and air with hundreds of thousands of other pollutants 3. When making products out of recycled plastic instead, nearly all of these negative effects on the environment are absent or dramatically lessened. Precipitation on landfills can cause ground water pollution, and the run-off can add pollution to streams 2. Landfills also have an unpleasant odor. Recycling conserves natural resources. What can be recycled, and how much is actually reused? Common materials from households that can be recycled to make more include paper (cardboard, newspaper, print paper), glass (clear, green, brown), some plastics, steel, and aluminum. The percent of these materials that are actually recycled here in the United States instead of thrown into the solid waste stream is called the recovery rate. The recovery rate for paper and cardboard is 35.3%, aluminum-37.6%, glass-23.4%, and plastics-4.7% 3. The chart below summarizes these findings. Average Recovery Rate for Recyclables in the United States % Recovery Rate 0 Paper Aluminum Glass Plastic The United States does not recycle even half of its garbage. This is unfortunate because nearly all materials in the solid waste stream would be more energy efficient and/of beneficial to the environment if reused or recycled 3. 3 Hershkowitz, David R. Powelson and Melinda A. Powelson, Hershkowitz, Hershkowitz, Marion County recycling information, Indianapolis Star, 10 November Indy recycling could get kicked from the curb, Indianapolis Star, 5 May 2005.

4 This being said, how are the folks in Marion County doing? Do they recycle? Sort of Residents pay $5 to have their recyclables picked up from their curb. They are given the recycling bin, and billed every three months for pick-up. In addition, there are 30 drop-off sites throughout the city for items such as newspapers, steel and aluminum food and beverage cans, aerosol cans, green, brown, and clear glass, and #1 and #2 plastics 4, Unfortunately, only 3.5% of families are active in the curbside program. This program is costing the city of Indianapolis too much money, and it might soon be without a pick up recycling. 6 The Windy City is trying to go above and beyond their Blue Bag recycling program that many have deemed a failure. Under this old program, residents had to purchase their own blue bags to put recyclables in, and they had to pay about $7 a month to have it collected 6. Participation was very low, and costs were too high 6. Even so, most of the material collected was not ever legitimately accounted for at recycling facilities. As of April 2005, each household gets 2 bins: one for waste, and one for recyclable materials. They are collected 7 Cincinnati has a FREE curbside recycling service that collects every week! The city boasts that recycling is good for both the environment and the economy. In fact, recycling is Ohio s third largest industry, and it accounts for 3.7% of jobs in 6 Adam S. Weinberg, Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Development (Princeton: Princeton the state. One would think that with a free recycling program that positively University Press, 2002). 7 Julie Samuels, Community Outreach impacts Coordinator, the lives Chicago of everyone Recycling in Coalition, the state, Retrieved all residents on November would participate. 13, 2005 from www. Chicagorecycling.org.

5 8 Detroit has no residential pick-up recycling program, but there are some drop-off facilities. Participation is low. 9 Minneapolis has an aggressive curbside recycling program in which 91% of residents participate. Pick up is every two weeks. Households that recycle receive a $7 credit on their utility bill each month 9. They also have several drop-off facilities for hazardous materials. For some cities, recycling is a costly process. Minneapolis, however, is making money by recycling and avoiding 8 Cincinnati Recycling Frequently Asked Questions, Retrieved on November 13, 2005 from www. Cincinnatioh.gov/pubsrv/pages/ / 9 Recycling Collection, Retrieved on November 13, 2005 from www. Ci-minneapolis.mn.us/solidwaste/recycling.asp

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