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The Case for Recycling - A Few Data Points to Consider

September 03, 2019

I was at a friend's house for dinner the other night and I asked where the recycle bin was to throw out some items and they said "we don't recycle".  I guess I shouldn't be so shocked about this, as more people in the US still don't recycle vs. recycle - the latest statistic I've seen is around 30% recycle. So my friends are in the majority. 

So, in light of this and JOOB's push towards a closed loop zero waste supply chain, we thought we provide some key data points to educate people on why they should recycle and the impact not recycling has.  

  • Although 75% of America's waste is recyclable, we only recycle around 30% of it.  Here are a few steps to recycle better.  
  • In the US, 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to .8 tons of trash per year are created by the average person. 
  • Each day the US throws away enough trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks.
  • The US is the #1 trash producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year.  This means that 5% of the world's people generate 40% of the world's waste.  
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as it takes to burn it. 
  • 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. 
  • It only takes 5 recycled PET bottles to make enough fiberfill to stuff a ski jacket.  
  • If the US were to get our recycling rate up to 75%, the effect would be like removing 50 million passenger cars from US roads.
  • The US throws away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour - about 42,000 per minute.  Here is how you can reduce your plastic use. 
  • Food wrappers and containers are the largest contributors to plastic pollution (31.14% of pollution in environment).  Our eat-on-the-go mentality is in part to blame for this, and the fact that there is no recovery system for recycling these items.  Read more here about what's being done in this area.  
  • Over 100,000 marine animals die every year from plastic entanglement and ingestion.  
  • Only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled, according to the EPA.  Based on these rates - Americans throw out phones containing over $60 million in gold and/or silver every year. 

In short, recycling  helps save energy, reduces pollution and CO2 emissions, reduces production costs, and helps the planet's many animals.  


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