Recycling is one of the most important actions we can take to preserve our planet. On a daily basis, more than 100 million Americans participate in recycling used and old materials in their households and offices.
Are you one of them? Or are you trying to sort which items you can recycle and which ones belong in the compost or the garbage?
To help you out, the National Recycling Coalition has compiled a list the top ten most important items to recycle.
Aluminum cans are 100 percent recyclable, and they can be recycled over and over again. Even better, turning recycled cans into new cans takes 95 percent less energy than making brand-new ones. So how about starting with all those soda and juice cans?
2. PET PLASTIC BOTTLES
Americans will buy about 25 billion single-serving bottles of water this year, according to the Container Recycling Institute. Worse yet, nearly 80 percent of those bottles will end up in a landfill. Let’s put a stop to that. Making plastic out of recycled resources uses about two-thirds less energy than making new plastic. And because PET plastic bottles, more than any other type of plastic, are the most commonly used type, they are usually the easiest to recycle.
This is a pretty obvious one, right? It seems like a no-brainer to set up a recycling bin next to your garbage can for newspaper and any other scrap paper. But why should we recycle paper? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper makes up about one-third of the municipal waste stream in the U.S. That’s a whole lot of paper, and since we know that recycling all that paper conserves resources, saves energy, and doesn’t clog up the landfills, there’s no reason not to do it.
4. CORRUGATED CARDBOARD
Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) represents a significant percentage of the commercial solid waste stream. In 1996, the U.S. generated 29 million tons of OCC, or 13.8 percent of our municipal waste stream. Approximately 90 percent of that comes from the commercial or non-residential sector, the places where we work. So next time UPS delivers a big box to your office, be sure to break it down and recycle it — after you’ve emptied it, of course.
5. STEEL CANS
Just like aluminum, steel products can be recycled over again without compromising the quality of the steel. We’re talking about steel cans, but maybe you have some steel auto parts or appliances ready for recycling too? More than 80 million tons of steel are recycled each year in North America, and recycling steel saves the equivalent energy to power 18 million households a year. You can learn more about steel recycling by visiting the Steel Recycling Institute website.
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