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Why Recycle?

Apple Valley Waste believes that if we want to leave this planet for our future generations, it’s critical that you have a proactive recycling plan in place – whether that’s in the office, in your community, or in your home.

Because of this, Apple Valley Waste is focused on some key landfill statistics that will allow you to think differently about the current way our population disposes of its trash and the current problems that lie within its current practices. These landfill facts on trash and recycling will prove the severity of the problems that lie within our current approach to trash.

Nine-tenths of all solid waste in the United States does not get recycled, and roughly 80% of the items we bury in landfills could be recycled. Although 75% of America’s waste is recyclable, we only recycle around 30% of it.

Did you Know?


A single recycled plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours. It also creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than would be created when making a new bottle.


Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it.


The energy it takes to make 1.5 million tons of plastic could power 250,000 homes.


If glass container manufacturers achieve 50 percent recycled content in the manufacture of new glass bottles, the achievement would save enough energy to power 21,978 homes for one year while also removing over 181 tons of waste from landfills monthly.


Recycling just two aluminum cans save the same amount of energy it takes to power a PC for a single workday.


You can make 20 new cans from recycled material using the same amount of energy that it takes to make 1 brand new can.

Recycling Prevents Resource Destruction

To understand the importance of recycling, we must look at the entire lifecycle of a product - from the extraction and processing of raw materials, to the manufacture and consumption of the product, and then to its final disposal. Recycling creates a closed-loop system where discarded products are returned back to manufacturers for use in new recyclable products, instead of ending up in a landfill. This system helps prevent the pollution and destruction that occurs when materials are extracted from the earth to be made into products.

In a world with a growing population and a limited resource base, sustainable practices are no longer a lifestyle choice, but a necessary practice. For the future of our economy, our health, and the environment, we must greatly expand recycling infrastructure around the world and weave sustainable practices into our personal and professional lives.

Every three months, Americans throw away enough aluminum cans to build our nation’s entire commercial air fleet.  If just one of these cans were recycled it would save enough energy to power a TV for three hours. In fact, it takes 95% less energy and water to recycle a can than it does to create a can out of virgin materials.

Recycling Saves Energy

Every year, Americans generate more than 230 million tons of solid waste. By recycling about 30% of our waste every year, Americans save the energy equivalent of 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline and reduce the greenhouse gas equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road. For every one million tons of material recycled rather than land filled, we save the energy equivalent of:

Graphic here with oil drums/ bar graph showcasing these numbers

  • Aluminum: 35,680,000 barrels of oil
  • Glass: 460,000 barrels of oil
  • Newspaper: 2,920,000 barrels of oil
  • Office paper: 1,760,000 barrels of oil
  • Mixed residential paper: 4,010,000 barrels of oil
  • PET (plastic): 9,100,000 barrels of oil
  • HDPE (plastic): 8,870,000 barrels of oil
Recycling Prevents Pollution

When recyclable materials are used in place of virgin materials during manufacturing, we avoid the environmental damage caused by mining for metals, drilling for petroleum, and harvesting trees. Of course, there is always some degree of pollution created in any manufacturing process, including recycling, but production using recycled material is dramatically less polluting and resource intensive than production from virgin materials:

  • Producing recycled white paper creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than producing paper from virgin fibers.
  • Using recycled cans instead of extracting ore to make aluminum cans produces 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution.
  • Recycling and remanufacturing are 194 times more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions than land filling and virgin manufacturing.
Recycling Saves Money

While the cost of collecting and processing recyclables is more expensive than traditional disposal costs, the money earned in selling recyclable materials offsets those costs, making recycling the cheaper option for your community. In some communities, land filling can cost three times more than recycling.

Not to mention, all the environmental and public health benefits of recycling, such as reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and the avoided health care costs from a cleaner environment, have benefits that stretch far beyond monetary value.

Recycling Creates Jobs

For every one job at a landfill, there are ten jobs in recycling processing and twenty-five jobs in recycling-based manufacturers. The recycling industry employs more workers than the auto industry.

Process Jobs Created(per 10,000 tons/year)
Landfilling *
Recycling processing **********
Recycling-based manufacturing *************************

Landfills and Incinerators are Major Sources of Pollution

Photo here showing landfill or incinerator pollution

  • Landfills are the largest source of human-caused methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 23 times more than carbon dioxide.
  • Landfill gas contains hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens
  • Landfills can leak leachate pollutants into the soil and contaminate nearby groundwater

Once groundwater is contaminated, it is virtually impossible to clean up and the EPA recommends abandoning the source. Groundwater sources provide the drinking water for more than 50% of U.S. residents and are used to irrigate about a third of our cropland.

Incinerators are a source of dioxin, the most toxic substance known to man. They also produce mercury, a powerful neurotoxin, as well as other dangerous heavy metals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and chromium.

Landfills and Incinerators are Economic Losers

Incinerators require vast amounts of capital to construct, and then require a continual stream of garbage to stay operational, thus creating an economic incentive to waste more and recover less. Many U.S. communities have found themselves financially in debt to the incinerator for failing to supply the necessary trash volume. To repay the bank, a community must perpetually feed the incinerator with waste, thus preventing the growth of recycling or composting.

Our Current System of One-Way Use is not Sustainable or Just

According to the Global Footprint Network, we are consuming resources twice as fast as the Earth can renew them. This means we are jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Unless we change this rate of consumption, by 2050 we would require three Earths to supply our resources.

 As populations continue to increase there will be increasing conflict over our limited supply of resources, everything from precious metals to clean water. This conflict has coined the term “Resource Wars” which are violent conflicts driven by competition for control over natural materials such as oil, water, timber, and other key minerals. The best way to slow our rate of consumption and avoid these violent outbreaks is by teaching and implementing sustainable practices.

Which Future are you Supporting?

Recycling alone will not end resource destruction but it’s an important step along the road to a world of Zero Emissions and Zero Waste, or Z-squared. A Z-squared community promotes the sustainable and equitable use and distribution of resources.

Zero Emissions refers to an engine, motor, energy source, or transportation process that emits no waste products that pollute the environment, such as wind or solar power.

Zero Waste is the idea of preventing waste before it is created. Zero Waste is about more than just recycling. It’s about restructuring the way we produce materials to eliminate waste that will eventually have to be disposed.

Each of us has an important role to play in creating a Z-squared system:

  • Plan: Elected officials need to be sure that every decision they make as public servants is aiming for Z-squared, and that rules and regulations reward Z-squared practices rather than perpetuate the unsustainable status quo.
  • Design: Businesses need to design every product and service for Z-squared, from production to recovery.
  • Choose: This is the key to Z-squared. Every decision each of us makes--including the products we purchase, the energy source we use, our means of transportation, and even the elected officials we vote for, plays a role in shaping a sustainable future. Which future are you supporting?