We all know that recycling is a good thing. It requires less energy, uses up fewer natural resources and keeps waste out of our local landfills. If you are just getting started or have been recycling forever, here are some of the top materials you should be recycling right now:
- Newspapers. Using recycled newspaper saves 34 to 60 percent of the total energy needed for virgin newsprint, according to Waste Management. Approximately 10 million tons of newsprint is tossed into the trash every year in the U.S. and around 65,000 to 75,000 trees are needed to produce the Sunday edition of the New York Times.
- Cardboard. Waste Management says that recycling one ton of cardboard will save more than 9 cubic yards of landfill space and recycled cardboard saves 24 percent of the total energy needed for virgin cardboard. When recycling your cardboard, make sure you flatten it to save storage space.
- Paperboard. The material used to make cereal boxes, shoe boxes and so on can be recycled in many municipal recycling programs. As with cardboard, flattening the paperboard container will save storage space.
- Aluminum Cans. Recycling aluminum prevents the need to mine for ore to create new aluminum. And, according to the Aluminum Association, aluminum is “100 percent recyclable and retains its properties indefinitely.” Also, recycling aluminum cans takes 95 percent less energy than creating new ones which means, the energy it takes to produce one can, could produce 20 recycled cans.
- Steel Cans. Steel cans are used for holding coffee, vegetables and other food products and are often referred to as tin cans. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, almost 69 percent of all steel is recycled in North America each year which is more paper, aluminum, plastic and glass combined.
- Plastic #1 Bottles. This plastic is usually clear and used to make water and soda bottles. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) plastic and can be recycled through most municipal recycling programs. According to Recycle Across America, every hour Americans throw away approximately 2.5 million plastic bottles. The energy saved by recycling one ton of plastic bottles is the equivalent of the energy usage of a two person household for one entire year.
- Plastics #2 through #7. Most local recycling programs take plastic containers with “necks” like shampoo bottles, detergent bottles and so on. Make sure to remove plastic tops from the plastic containers being recycled and rinse containers with water if needed.
- Glass Containers. Glass containers for food and beverage are 100 percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity and, the Glass Packing Institute reports, recycled glass can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials.
- Magazines. People sometimes assume that glossy magazines and catalogs can’t be recycled because of the extra processing done to magazine or catalog paper, this is typically not the case and most recycling program will accept this material.
- Mixed Paper. Copy paper, junk mail and those tomes of papers your elementary school child brings home seemingly every day, all of that can easily be put in your recycling bin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paper makes up about one-third of the all the municipal waste stream in the U.S.
As always, check with your local municipal recycling program to make sure all of these items can be placed in your curbside recycling bin. I have lived all over this country and have had programs that ranged from no curbside pickup to single-stream recycling that accepts almost everything. If you have any questionable items that need to be recycled, use our Search to find a local recycler.