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Recycling by the numbers

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POSTED: August 18, 2014 9:00 p.m.

If you still are not convinced about the benefits of recycling, let me share these facts provided by the Georgia Recycling Coalition.  
With only 35 percent of our trash being recycled, we are wasting an enormous amount of resources and energy and money. Recycling costs less. On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.
When you consider how much waste is generated even daily, that is a tremendous amount of cash going down the drain — or maybe, more appropriately, down the landfill.
Recycling saves energy, too. Consider these facts from the Environmental Protection Agency and greenwaste.com:
• The energy from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It’s much more for a compact fluorescent bulb — 20 hours. It also creates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution than making a new bottle from raw materials does.
• Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for three hours. That’s the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
• We throw away enough wood and paper to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
• Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
• One ton (2,000 pounds) of recycled paper can save all the following: 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy, and 7,000 gallons of water. Overall, that’s a 64 percent energy savings, a 58 percent water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.
Recycling reduces the need for new raw materials, so we conserve precious resources. Consider these factoids from recycling-revolution.com:
• Aluminum soda cans be recycled forever (We actually use 80 billion soda cans every year.)
• However, aluminum cans account for less than 1 percent of the total U.S. waste stream, according to EPA estimates, because they are recycled so much.
• We could save about 250 million trees each year if we recycled all our newspaper. Yes, that is what I wrote — 250 million.
• About 25 million trees a year can be saved by recycling one-tenth of our newspapers.
• Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces approximately 385 pounds of waste for each ton of glass made. But substituting recycled glass for half of the raw materials can cut waste by 80 percent.
We know recycling matters, and we encourage you to join us in this easy way to make significant differences in our world. Gosh, if we could make all these changes, I could keep driving a convertible instead of a Prius.
Find out more about recycling by calling Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or emailing klcb@coastalnow.net.

Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

 

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