In honor of "Oklahoma Celebrates America Recycles Day" this year, the Oklahoma Recycling Association (OKRA) wants to remind Oklahomans of recycling's benefits. Recycling provides a range of environmental and economic benefits to our communities that the alternatives, landfilling and incineration, simply do not provide.
Manufacturing with recycled materials saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials. It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspapers 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Recycling in the U.S. is a multi-billion dollar industry, with $14 billion in the sale of recyclables alone. If it didn't make economic sense, why would thousands of U.S. companies process recyclables and manufacture new products with recycled content? Michael Patton, Director of the Metropolitan Environmental Trust in Tulsa, recently announced that "recycling businesses provide 5,000 jobs in our state, as well as an annual payroll of over 200 million dollars."
While it's true that some recycling programs are less efficient than they could be, many local governments and corporations have demonstrated time and again that recycling can actually lower the overall cost of solid waste management. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says waste prevention and recycling are also some of the best strategies to combat global warming.
Disposal options like landfilling extend the responsibility for and the costs of our waste to future generations. Recycling relieves pressure on dwindling natural resources and places the responsibility on this generation, where it belongs, to be wise stewards of our resources for our children.
Recycling is a true economic and environmental solution, both locally and globally. Recycling is one of the few environmental actions that every single American can participate in and feel good about. The American public knows a good thing when it sees it and will continue to recycle as much as possible, because they know it really does make a difference.
For recycling to be truly successful, recyclable materials must be processed into new products, and those products must be purchased and used. Many bottles, cans, paper wrappings, bags, cereal boxes, and other cartons and packages are made from recycled materials. Look for items in packages and containers made from post-consumer recycled content for maximum effectiveness.
Oklahoma has along way to go to catch up with the majority of the nation. For information on what's happening with recycling in Oklahoma, sign up for the Oklahoma Recycling Association's electronic distribution list on the website: www.recycleok.org. While you’re there, be sure to complete a pledge form for this year’s America Recycles Day prize drawing.
Most U.S. citizens agree that it is important to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Recycling helps us do that by saving energy and reusing valuable resources.
Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, saves energy and water and produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials. It takes 95% less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make it from raw materials. Making recycled steel saves 60%, recycled newspapers 40%, recycled plastics 70%, and recycled glass 40%, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Individuals also can help America save energy by recycling motor oil. Motor oil does not wear out--it simply gets dirty. It can be used again and again. Americans throw away enough used motor oil every year to fill 120 super-tankers and it could all be recycled. It takes 42 gallons of high quality crude oil to produce 2-1/2 quarts of motor oil; it only takes 1 gallon of waste oil to produce the same amount. Recycle your used motor oil at Pep Boys, Valvoline Instant Oil Change, Texaco Full Service Stations, Wal-Mart Automotive Centers, Auto Zone or other automotive service centers. Used motor oil contains heavy metals from your car's engine and should never be allowed to flow into storm drains.
Traci Phillips, president of the Oklahoma Recycling Association (OKRA), recommends carrying a reusable cup to save energy. "Americans produce enough Styrofoam cups each year to circle the earth 426 times. That's one hundred cups per person per year," notes Ms. Phillips. "These cups are made from petroleum products, a non-renewable resource."
OKRA is a proponent of America Recycles Day, a nationwide public education and outreach campaign celebrated every year on November 15 and aimed at focusing attention on the importance of recycling and buying recycled products.
For recycling to be successful, recyclable materials must be processed into new products, and those products must be purchased and used. Many bottles, cans, paper wrappings, bags, cereal boxes, and other cartons and packages are made from recycled materials. Look for items in packages and containers made from post-consumer recycled content for maximum effectiveness.
- Each of us generates on average 4.4 pounds of waste per day per person.
- Recycling and composting recovered 24 percent of our municipal solid waste in 1994. That's around 49 million tons!
- Recycling all of your home's waste newsprint, cardboard, glass, and metal can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 850 pounds a year.
- Recycling an aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television set for three hours.
- It is estimated that 150 million computers will be discarded in the United States alone, enough to fill a hole one acre in area and 3.5 miles deep.
- Every Sunday, the United States wastes nearly 90% of the recyclable newspapers. This wastes about 500,000 trees.
- Every year, Americans throw out 24 million tons of grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste.
- Each year, Americans throw away 1.6 million pens, 2 million razors and blades, and 200 million tires.
- One tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year.
- Only one percent of the world's water supply is usable. 97 percent is contained in the oceans or seas and 2 percent is found frozen in the polar caps.
- It is possible to drink water that was present during the time of the dinosaurs.
- 40% of our municipal garbage is made up of kitchen and garden waste.
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