50 Facts About Recycling

50 facts about recycling

Recycling is something we have all experienced one way or another – whether we know it or not. A simple act of recycling can have long-lasting effects on our environment – so we should strive to recycle wherever possible. Read on to learn 50 facts about Recycling.

Fact 1: Recycling is the process of creating new items from old and used materials that would’ve been thrown away.

  • This helps to conserve energy, resources, and space.

Fact 2: Aluminium cans can be recycled and used again in just 2 months.

  • It’s one of the most recycled items in the US. Although other forms of aluminium, like sheets and bars, can be recycled too.

Fact 3: The energy saved from recycling 1 aluminium can is the equivalent to watching 3 hours of television!

  • If a can is thrown away and never recycled, it will take 500 years to decompose.

Fact 4: There are over 80 billion aluminium cans produced globally each year.

  • Most beverage makers use aluminium cans for packaging.

Fact 5: If you recycled all the New York Times newspapers that were released today, you would save more than 75,000 trees.

  • It would take around half a million trees just to produce the weekend edition of this newspaper.

Fact 6: Most Americans use at least 7 trees each year for wood, paper, and paper towels.

  •  If you do the math, you’ll find the whole US consumes around 2.3 billion trees a year.

Fact 7: An average American uses around 680 pounds of paper each year. Most Americans never recycle paper and just throw it away.

  • If you save 2000 pounds of paper, that is equivalent to 17 trees.

Fact 8: Americans use more than 2.5 million plastic objects every 30 minutes. And most of them are never recycled.

  • Most of the bottles used have numbers underneath for you to know if that plastic bottle is recyclable.

Fact 9: Plastic bags that are thrown away often end up in the ocean, and harm sea creatures.

  • Some turtles think that plastics bags are Jellyfish. The turtles eat the plastic bags and this causes poisoning and blockages in their oesophaguses.

Fact 10: Before the ban by most US states, Americans would throw away around 25 billion Styrofoam cups a year!

  • These Styrofoam cups are essentially impervious to erosion, weathering and bacteria and take over 500 years to break down.

Fact 11: It can take more than 4000 years to decompose a glass bottle.

  •  It’s one of the easiest materials to recycle as it can be recycled infinitely.

Fact 12: Glass bottles are separated by colour when they are recycled because they still retain their colour after being recycled.

  • And still, even though it’s a well-established fact that glass bottles can be recycled EASILY, most are STILL being thrown away yearly.

Fact 13: Rainforests around the globe are decreasing by at least 100 acres a minute.

  • This can mainly be attributed to the slashing and burning of forested areas for agricultural purposes.

Fact 14: Each year, we throw away enough wood and paper to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years. 

  • In the US alone, people throw away approximately 1 billion trees worth of wood-based material every year.

Fact 15: Fix that leaky faucet! One drop of water per second wastes around 540 gallons of water per year.

  •  That’s more than 8,600 cups a year!

Fact 16: A ton of recycled plastic can save 3,114 litres of oil, 20,786 megajoules of electricity, and 23 cubic meters of landfill space.

  • 23 cubic meters is about the same size as a classic Mini Cooper.

Fact 17: In 2014, only 33% of the total number of plastic bottles sold in the US were recycled. 

  •  The UK had a slightly bigger number at 45%.

Fact 18: In the UK, for every 1,000,000 tonnes of plastics produced, almost 85% of it won’t be recycled and ends up in a landfill site.

  • Globally, the amount of plastic we throw away is enough to go around the earth 4 times.

Fact 19: 80% of the items buried in landfills could actually be recycled and reused.

  •  That’s why it’s the biggest contributor to soil pollution.

Fact 20: If you recycled a single plastic bottle, you could save up enough energy to light up a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours.

  • It would create 50% less water pollution, and 20% less air pollution, compared to creating a new bottle.

Fact 21: 75% of America’s waste can actually be recycled.

  •  Although there are many steps to recycling waste, only 30% is actually recycled.

Fact 22: Motor oil never loses its effectiveness, it only gets dirty.

  • We could just filter out the dirt and reuse it.

Fact 23:  Switzerland has the highest recycling rate in the world at 58%.

  •  Australia comes next at 49.7% and Germany at 48%. 

Fact 24: Women have more concerns about the environment and are more likely to recycle than men.

  • Also, 90% of the people claim they would recycle if they knew some easy ways to do it.

Fact 25: There are 5.25 trillion plastic particles floating in the ocean.

  • 244,000 metric tons of floating plastics are regularly mistaken for new islands.

Fact 26: Over 100,000 marine animals die every year because of ingesting plastic waste.

  • Autopsies, performed on marine animals, show their stomachs are lined with plastics.

Fact 27: Glass bottles are infinitely recyclable without losing their quality or purity.

  • That’s why today, to create new glass bottles, we recycle old ones.

Fact 28: In just 3 months, there are enough aluminium cans accumulated, so that you could rebuild a commercial air fleet.

  • Aluminium cans make up 1% of the overall waste in the US. 

Fact 29: Every time America celebrates a holiday, they produce 5 million tons of additional waste.

  •  Of the 5 million tons, 4 million tons is composed of gift wrappers and shopping bags.

Fact 30: Majority of ‘junk mail’ discarded in the US end up on landfills.

  • If you transferred the energy used to create and distribute the ‘junk mail’, you could heat 250,000 homes a day.

Fact 31: To produce 1 trillion pages of paper, you would have to cut down 8.5 million acres of trees. 

  •  That area is bigger than the state of Maryland.

Fact 32: Businesses in the US use 21 million tons of paper each year.

  • If you used all this paper to make a wall, it would be 12-foot high, and from New York City to Los Angeles.

Fact 33: Paper-based Chlorine pollution is a real problem.

  • When factories produce paper they sometimes use Chlorine-based bleach. When the paper later breaks down it gives off methane, which is 84 times worse than CO2.

Fact 34: 1 ton of recycled cardboard could save around 7 cubic meters of space in landfills.

  •  And it could save 174 litres of oil.

Fact 35: 70% of all corrugated cardboard’s are recovered for recycling.

  •  It only takes 75% of the energy required to produce new cardboard.

Fact 36: The US produces 34 million tons of food waste per year. 

  • That’s almost half of the total food intake of the US.

Fact 37: Electronic waste comprises of 2% of the total waste in the US.

  •  It generates 1.8 million tons of landfill waste.

Fact 38: Recycling 1 ton of trash costs $30 and is the cheapest way to dispose of waste.

  • It costs $50 to send waste to a landfill and an additional $75 to incinerate.

Fact 39: A washable diaper costs only $0.03 per use, while commercial diapers cost around $0.22 per use.

  • On average, a baby uses around 2,500 diapers a year.

Fact 40: Because landfill is so densely packed, no oxygen can penetrate it. This means only anaerobic bacteria can break down the waste leading to slower decomposition.

  • ‘Anaerobic degradation’ causes a huge amount of methane gas, a major contributor to Global Warming.

Fact 41: Burying coffins also contribute to land pollution, due to the toxic chemicals in the materials used.

  • More than 90,000 tons of steel and 2,700 tons of copper and bronze are buried yearly.

Fact 42: Most companies want their products to be disposed, and not reused.

  • Most products have what’s called, built-in obsolescence. This is when a manufacturer knowingly builds in a failure point into the product thus limiting the products potential lifespan.

Fact 43: Before the 20th century, people practised reusing and recycling. Wasting was frowned upon in agricultural communities.

  • Tanners would collect urine and use it to tan animal skins.

Fact 44: Bones were the most recycled item before the 20th century.

  • People used bones to create buttons and gelatin.

Fact 45: It was in 1824 when the first organized incineration of trash began.

  • After the Industrial Revolution industries shifted to mass production, thus diminishing the value of scraps.

Fact 46: 70% of global electronic wastes end up in China where family-ran workshops try to recycle them.

  • Although it’s still technically recycling, their processes are rudimentary and could potentially do more harm to the environment.

Fact 47: 133 square miles of aluminium foil is needed to wrap 20 million Hershey Kisses each day.

  • Although aluminium is highly recyclable, most of these wrappers end up in the trash because no one thinks of recycling such a small piece.

Fact 48: In the Pacific Ocean, there is a “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and it’s 3 times the size of France!

  • It’s estimated to double in size within the next 5 years.

Fact 49: According to a study by Yale University, 12.8% of US landfill waste comes from construction and debris, rather than home waste.

  • Although this does not represent the whole nation, this does suggest that construction workers could be more mindful about their product disposal. 

Fact 50: There are 11 million tons of recyclable textiles disposed of in landfills each year.

  •   You could make about 85 billion t-shirts out of it.


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