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Most of our garbage we throw out every day, usually ends up in landfills. But landfills are filling up and closing down all over the country. Two hundred landfills will close over the next five years in California because of all the garbage we put in them. How can we stop this from happening? We can recycle waste and used materials. An estimated 80% of all households in California recycle something. If we didn’t recycle, all our landfills would be full by 1998.
Many things such as aluminum, plastic, glass and paper are thrown out every day. These materials may seem useless but they can make a difference by being recycled. If a school recycled one ton of the paper it uses, it would be saving 17 trees and keeping 60 pounds of air pollution out of the sky.
Aluminum is the number one material Californians recycle most. Every year we use about 8.3 billion aluminum cans and recycle over 70% of them. The national average is only about 60%. From just recycling one aluminum can, the amount of energy you save will power a TV set for up to three hours.
Plastic is recycled very carefully because plastic recycling faces one huge problem: plastic types must not be mixed for recycling, but it is impossible to tell one type from another by sight or touch. Even a small amount of the wrong type of plastic can ruin the melt. The plastic industry has responded to this problem by developing a series of weird looking markers, usually seen on the bottom of plastic containers. By recycling 26 plastic soda bottles, it saves enough material to make one whole polyester suit.
Glass is easier to recycle in California than in other states because we have 13 glass plants compared to Oregon and Washington who only have one each. More than 4,000 California restaurants and bars recycle their glass. For every ton of glass recycle, we save more than a ton of resources. And by recycling glass, it reduces related air pollution by 15-20%. The special thing about glass is that it can be recycled forever.
Paper makes up about 40-45% of California’s residential trash. We could get a lot back out of recycling all that paper. Most types of paper can be recycled. Newspapers have been recycled profitably for decades. Recycling of other paper is just starting to become common. The key to recycling is collecting lots of clean, well-sorted, uncontaminated and dry paper. Californians have saved enough energy from recycling paper to heat 750,000 homes for a year. And if everybody recycled their Sunday newspapers, we would be able to save 500,000 trees every week.
Some things we cannot recycle are ceramics (coffee mugs, and plates). If we recycled ceramics with glass, it wouldn’t melt down with the glass which would cause a lot of trouble by ruining the whole batch.
One of the most successful refillable bottle recycling programs in the United States is Encore, which is located in Richmond, California. They wash old wine bottles (using a solar-assisted hot water heater) and sell then sell them to wineries at a lower price than new bottles would cost. The business employs only 15 people and saves 7 million bottles every year.
Another recycling program in the bay area is in Union City called Secondary Fibre Co. Some schools in the bay area collect their used milk and juice cartons to be processed at the Secondary Fibre Co.
Here is a reason why we should recycle. Because in a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. If you add it up, this means that a 150 pound adult will leave 90,000 pounds of trash for his or her children. Some of that trash is recyclable.
There are many ways you can be active on recycling. You could participate in your local Curbside Recycling program. Or you could go out and recycle your white office and typing paper because some recyclers might even pay you money for this. And when you go shopping to buy things, keep in mind to buy recyclable stuff. Always remember to reduce, reuse, and recycle whenever possible.
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Water conservation, Recycling by material, Energy conversion, Recycling, Paper recycling, Plastic recycling, Electronic waste, Kerbside collection, Nutrient cycle, Plastic, Recycling in the United States, Material efficiency
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