Recycling is defined by clean-energy-ideas.com as a process of re-using a given product beyond its intended use or producing a new product from a recyclable material.[163] There are hundreds of definitions for "recycling" that will appear just for a single Google search but all of these definitions imply the same meaning. Wikipedia includes in its own definition the various benefits of recycling which include the reduction of fresh raw material consumption; prevention of disposal of potentially useful materials; and reduction of energy usage, air pollution, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is the third component of the waste hierarchy: "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle."[164]

This article provides interesting statistics and facts about paper, glass, and plastic recycling. Some of the facts and statistics may sadden you but they will surely open your eyes to the current worldwide status quo of recycling. Take note that the stats presented in this article changes over time.

Recycling
Credit: Wikimedia

Paper Recycling

About 100 acres of forest area is cleared per minute. The cut trees are used to produce paper which is normally used and disposed without much thought. A typical tree takes a minimum of 15 to 20 years to grow and mature but it only takes 10 minutes to be felled.

According to the Public Recycling Officials of the state of Pennsylvania, for every ton of paper recycled, we can save 17 trees, 225 kilowatt hours, 60,000 gallons of water, 9,000 pounds of steam, 350 pounds of limestone, 275 pounds of sulfur, and 3.3 cubic yards of landfill area. Paper recycling uses 70% less energy than when paper is produced using wood and other raw materials. Moreover, for every 14 trees worth of paper recycled, we protect the air by 165,142 tons of air pollutants.[165]

Plastic Recycling

Do you know that the average decomposition time for a typical plastic bottle is 700 years? Surprisingly, 250,000 plastic bottles are dumped in landfills every hour. About 50% of recyclable waste in dumps are plastic bottles. In 2001 alone, about 25 million tons of plastics was generated in the United States; 11 million tons as container and packaging plastics, over 8 million tons as durable goods, and more than 6 million tons of non durable goods. Plastics do not only add to landfill space but also destroy marine life when dumped in bodies of water. An estimated 1 million sea creatures are killed per year due to plastics.[165]

Glass Recycling

In 2001, Americans generated 10.9 million tons of glass in the municipal solid waste (MSW) stream but only 22% of this was recovered for recycling. Where did the other 78% go? Well, a large percentage of the used bottles was dumped in landfills or elsewhere. The largest sources of glass recovered for recycling include soft drink, beer, food, wine, and liquor containers.

While glass is 100% recyclable and can be used over and over again, it takes forever to decompose because it is not biodegradable. Just like plastics, glass wastes consume landfill space. Using scrap glasses ( cullet) to manufacture new glasses demands less energy from power sources, reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, and reduced amount of raw materials needed.Therefore, glass recycling is not only environment friendly but also cost-effective[166]

There are other non biodegradable materials that can be recycled besides glass, paper, and plastic. If we recycle all these waste materials, we can help conserve our natural resources and save our environment from destruction. I challenge each in every one of you to contribute in the preservation of mother nature by recycling. Do this not only for yourself but for the next generation. Recycle now!