The Benefits of Recycling
by Michael Russell
than 1.1 million jobs and a yearly payroll of $37 billion. For every 10,000 tons of
waste that is recycled, 36 new jobs are created. If you were to incinerate the 10,000
tons of waste instead, only one job would be created. In addition, for every
employee there is collecting items that can be recycled, there are 26 employees that
turn these items into new products. There are as many employees in the recycling
industry as there are in the automobile and truck manufacturing industry. Also
recycling industry employees make more money than employees in other industries.

Recycling helps prevent global climate changes by reducing greenhouse gas
emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions can result from the manufacturing, use and
disposal of products. Greenhouse gas emissions are a part of nature and they help
create climates that sustain life on earth. If greenhouse gas emissions reach
dangerous concentration levels, then you might see rising global temperatures, sea
level changes and other climate changes. Recycling can help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in the following ways:

Manufacturing paper, plastics, glass and metal from recycled materials requires less
energy than manufacturing these products from virgin materials because the recycled
materials have already been processed. Also if you were to use virgin materials, you
would have to spend additional energy extracting and transporting the virgin
materials. For example, recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy
required to make new aluminum from virgin materials. Recycling steel and plastics
would require 60 percent and 70 percent less energy, respectively, than making
these products from raw materials. Recycling nearly any material will require less
energy than producing the material from virgin materials. In 2005, recycling saved
over 900 trillion BTUs, which is the same amount of energy used in 9 million
households annually. This energy conservation results in less fossil fuels being burned.
This means that less carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is released into the
atmosphere. If 6 tons of glass and one ton of aluminum were recycled, then 1 ton
and 13 tons of carbon dioxide, respectively, would not be released into the

Recycling also keeps materials out of landfills. This is important because materials in
landfills can decompose and release methane gas. Methane gas is a greenhouse gas
that is 20 to 30 times more dangerous to the environment than carbon dioxide.
Municipal solid waste landfills are responsible for 34 percent of methane gas
emissions attributed to Americans.

Waste combustion from incinerators can release greenhouse gas emissions into the
atmosphere. Recycling can reduce these emissions by keeping materials out of
incinerators. In 2003, recycling kept 72 million tons of material from incinerators and

Trees help combat the global climate changes by absorbing carbon dioxide from the
air and storing it in wood in a process called carbon sequestration. Continued efforts
to recycle paper would allow more trees to continue to absorb carbon dioxide. If a
ton of newspaper is recycled, 12 trees would be spared. Recycling one ton of office
paper would save 24 trees.

About The Author

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to
Recycling is a priority in the United
States. In fact, the United States
recycles more than 24 percent of its
waste. This is the highest percentage
in the industrialized world. This is only
appropriate considering the United
States also produces the most
amount of waste in the industrialized
world. Recycling can bring out about
economic and environmental benefits.

The recycling industry has made a
vital contribution to job creation and
economic development in the United
States. In 2000, the recycling
industry was responsible for more
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