Is recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles REALLY that important?
Absolutely… and here’s why.
There are hundreds of reasons why recycling aluminum cans and plastic bottles is important for the environment, but what many people don’t notice, is how recycling just ONE can or bottle can save a ton of energy and space in the long run. Here are three important statistics that highlight why recycling these two materials are extremely important:
- “The aluminum industry pays out more than 800 million dollars a year for recycled cans. The U.S. industry can recycling rate is approximately 67 percent, thus nearly a billion dollars of recycling profit can be gained. Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod,” - The Aluminum Association website.
- “Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.'s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year,” - Ban The Bottle website.
- “Recycling aluminum uses 95 percent less energy than creating it from scratch; recycling plastics uses about 70 percent less energy than creating new materials,” - SF Gate website.
What are the biggest benefits to recycling aluminum cans and other aluminum materials?
The biggest benefit of recycling aluminum is that it is economical and helps save a ton of energy. According to the Aluminum Association, aluminum is the MOST valuable material in the recycling bin and is the most recyclable of all materials. Discarded aluminum is more valuable than any other item because a used aluminum can be recycled and put back into use as a new can in as little as 60 days (Recycling Bin website). On the downside, tossing away aluminum cans wastes as much energy as pouring out half of the can's volume of gasoline.
Why do plastic bottles and jugs have such a bad reputation?
The list goes on… Eight out of ten plastic bottles or jugs end up in landfills or incinerators because many Americans do not dispose of them properly. According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans buy about 42.6 billion one-serving plastic water bottles every year and more than half of those bottle are not recycled, which is extremely bad for the environment. People also tend to litter plastic in the ocean and on roads so taxpayers are forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars each year to have the litter picked up and disposed of correctly.
So, why recycle plastic bottles and jugs?
There are many reasons why recycling these materials is important! One of the biggest benefits is that recycling plastic bottles helps conserve space that can be used for other items, such as aluminum. According to Earth911, 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space is saved for every ton of plastic that is recycled, which is a lot in the long run. Another reason why recycling plastic bottles is important is because it will help reduce the amount of plastic that gets littered around the country. Since plastic is such a versatile material it can also be recycled and made into items such as clothes, carpet, containers, bottles, plastic lumber, films, grocery bags, molding materials, and lawn and garden products.