Does recycling make a difference? What is Sustainable Materials Management? If you had to guess, which item was recycled at the highest percentage, what would it be?
Looking beyond recycling programs and waste destined for landfills, sustainable materials management looks at improving how resources are used throughout the entire life cycle of products. Many companies and manufactures across the United States and the world are making impressive strides towards increasing sustainability.
“In 2012, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted almost 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.5 percent recycling rate” as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency. By the way, lead acid batteries were recycled at a rate of 96%, the highest of all materials in our municipal waste streams. Steel cans were recycled at a rate of 70 %, and aluminum cans at a rate of 54%.
Recycling programs are making a difference. For instance, when one considers oil, a natural resource with limited reserves available to future generations, the equivalent of 165 gallons of gasoline is saved for every ton of mixed paper that is recycled. As an additional example, recycling one ton of aluminum cans conserves the equivalent of 1,665 gallons of gasoline.
Recycling is resource conservation that matters. Every person’s action that contributes to the conservation of natural resources increases sustainability.
To read more about recycling in the United States, click here to be directed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s report.