Ask Waste Watchers: Some reasons to recycle
Vail, CO Colorado
I have a relative who will not recycle because, according to him, “it doesn’t make any difference.” Can you explain how and why recycling makes a difference?
Vicki in Gypsum
Thanks for the great question, Vicki.
There are many people who share this opinion. While some materials are more “recyclable” than others, recycling does reduce the use of natural resources and generally requires less energy input than starting from scratch. Here are some of the many ways that recycling helps our community and ultimately helps keep our environment clean.
Recycling supports jobs. Locally, the Materials Recycling Facility in Wolcott pays wages to four county employees and two contract laborers from revenue derived from recyclables. As well, employees of local waste haulers, tractor-trailer drivers and administrators benefit. Regionally, jobs at the Rocky Mountain Bottling Co. in Wheat Ridge are created from glass recycling. Nationally, jobs in Illinois, Alabama, California and Oklahoma, where recycling plants are located, also are supported by materials recycled in Eagle County.
Recycling usually saves energy. The process of turning recycled aluminum, tin, plastic, glass, cardboard and paper into “new” products requires significantly less energy than it does to create products from raw materials. Cost savings in the manufacturing process translate to lower costs for the consumer. Some materials, such as glass, can be recycled repeatedly, meaning that you could be drinking from a bottle that has already been recycled numerous times.
Recycling prevents the loss of redemption money. Aluminum can be redeemed at a recycler for money, but most people do not feel that it is worth their time and effort. Discarding cans, plastic or cardboard with your regular trash is essentially burying money. The landfill does not sort through trash to pull recyclables out. If you choose not to redeem these items yourself, place them in recycle bins so that the Materials Recycling Facility can use them to help fund their operations.
Recycling extends landfill life expectancy. The Eagle County landfill is expected to last for approximately 100 years. It will not fill up in your lifetime, but it may reach maximum capacity in your children’s or grandchildren’s lifetime. When this landfill is full, another will be needed, and nobody wants a landfill located near their property. The more materials that are recycled, the longer the landfill can remain open.
Recycling creates new products. Many different products are made from the materials we recycle. Recycled plastic is frequently used to make carpet, fleece for clothing, toys, grocery bags, buckets, detergent bottles and clothes hangers. Recycled paper is turned into toilet paper, paper towels, printer paper and newspaper. Recycled glass and aluminum are typically used to make new bottles and cans.
As you can see, when people put forth the effort to recycle, it does make a world of difference.
Joseph Walls is hazardous-waste specialist at the Eagle County Household Hazardous Waste facility, located at the landfill in Wolcott. The facility is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 970-328-3468 or visit http://www.eaglecounty.us/recyclingwaste for information.
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