There's no denying that the world is at a crisis point. With more people living on the planet than at any other time in human history, there's so much more waste and not nearly enough space or resources for everyone. Knowing the truth about our planet's waste management situation, and knowing the most important recycling facts, are essential steps towards cutting down on waste.
Recycling is an industry that is only going from strength to strength, but there's still a long way to go. Millions upon millions of plastic bottles are thrown away every day, all over the world. Billions of tons of trash are disposed of in an unsustainable way every year, despite the fact users could recycle it!
To change things, we need to know the facts - so to inspire your environmental efforts, here are our top recycling facts!
Top recycling facts1. 100% of plastic bottles are recyclable
Unfortunately, plastic bottles are one of the most commonly discarded items of waste in the US. Every year, millions of empty plastic bottles make it into landfill sites, into the oceans, or simply become trash - lost and unaccounted for.
Statistics estimate that plastic bottles can take up to 1000 years to degrade if thrown away, and how much plastic is recycled? An estimated 4 out of 5 plastic bottles are NOT recycled. That's a lot of plastic that doesn't get reused, and it's one of the most disturbing facts about recycling because the truth is, 100% of these plastic bottles could be recycled.
Despite the potential, the recycling statistics don't lie. Instead of throwing your plastic bottles away, go to the extra effort and place them in the recycling!2. Plastic can only be recycled 3 times
So much of our day-to-day household waste is plastic. Plastic bottles, milk containers, plastic wrap, plastic food containers - the list goes on and on.
While we can recycle this plastic, and yes, it's super important to start recycling bottles, we also need to recognize that plastic has a limited lifespan. While it takes millennia to degrade, plastic can only go through the recycling process up to 3 times.
After this, the plastic's quality decreases dramatically, and it can no longer hold its shape. Recycling is critical, but we also need to stop using plastic entirely for a truly sustainable world.3. Aluminum cans are one of the most frequently discarded waste items
Plastic isn’t the only problem, but aluminum is as well. This resource is one of the most abundant on the planet, which is why it's a popular item for drink cans. It's cheap, it's easy to shape, and there's lots of it.
But aluminum isn't endless. We need to recycle aluminum cans as often as possible to save new resources from being dug up and more land being spoiled. You can help by placing your cans in the recycling. Use a handy can crusher like this one to create more space for cans to be recycled, too!4. Only 20% of all waste is recycled
Facts and figures vary when it comes to recycling and waste management, but most sources agree that the level of recycling only sits at around 20% of total household waste.
That means that 80% of household waste isn't recycled. It's going into landfills, burned, or eventually making its way into waterways, oceans, or simply on the side of the street. It's also a lot of unnecessary resource use. Instead of recycling old items, new resources are wasted to make new items. This causes further environmental damage and uses valuable energy.
20% is a start, but clearly, there's a lot of work left when it comes to recycling!5. Recycling reduces greenhouse gasses
Recycling doesn't just save resources, though; it directly contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling saves energy; that's a fact - a recycled cardboard box needs 75% of the energy that it takes to produce a brand new cardboard box - and it's the best way to start lowering your own carbon footprint.
In fact, if the US could raise its recycling levels from the 20% mark to 75%, that would be the equivalent of taking 55 million vehicles off of the highways each and every year. That's a considerable reduction in emissions!6. Food can be recycled too
This is one of those funny facts about recycling that not everyone mentions. The recycling industry isn't only concerned with recycling plastic, aluminum, or cardboard. They focus on recycling food waste, too. This is one element of recycling you can quickly start to take on board at home - all you need is a food scrap bin or a dedicated compost heap in the garden.
Food waste makes up an enormous portion of landfill space, but the truth is, it doesn't need to be there. Food waste can be broken down and composted; then, it can be reused as fertilizer or converted into a biofuel.
If food waste ends up in the landfill, it can't be extracted and composted. So, please don't throw your food waste into the trash; recycle it instead!7. Recycling creates jobs
We all know that recycling reduces waste while creating lots of great new products and useful items that we need in our day-to-day lives, but did you know that recycling also creates jobs?
As far as recycling information goes, this is an important aspect that we don't often realize. Recycling is a massive player in the economy, contributing up to 200 billion USD every year. There are hundreds of thousands of jobs directly involved in recycling, from waste collection to transport and management.
In fact, a recycling plant is estimated to create 10 times more jobs than an equivalent landfill site. We aren't just creating new plastic bottles, but new jobs when we recycle!
Recycling starts at home!
With so much more awareness in the world surrounding recycling, excellent progress has been made throughout the years. However, recycling is still a long way off from where it needs to be. The vast majority of waste still ends up in landfills or being burned.
The government is to blame for part of the issue, but as with anything, change can start at home. Help out the recyclers by ensuring that your waste ends up in the right box; stop buying plastic bottles and plastic bags - invest in reusable water bottles, thermos flasks, and shopping bags that have a much longer lifespan!
Recycling facts: It's time to start living sustainably
Does recycling work? The facts are there. Recycling is one of the most important changes you can incorporate into your daily routine, particularly if you want to help make a difference by living a more sustainable life.
The world needs more recycling if future generations want to enjoy the same standard of living we do; there simply aren't enough resources for us to continue wasting them. It takes effort from individuals and governments to ensure that recycling gets done as efficiently as it can.
It starts at home, with accurate recycling information and a desire to help the world we live in today and tomorrow. Let’s help teach the rest of the world about the importance of recycling!
Why not bookmark our recycling facts, so you can inspire your friends and family to keep recycling?