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Recycling Facts



  • More aluminum goes into beverage cans than any other product.
  • During the time it takes you to read this sentence, 50,000 12-ounce cans are made.
  • 350,000 aluminum cans are produced every minute.
  • There is no limit to the amount of times an aluminum can can be recycled.
  • An aluminum can that is thrown away today will still be an aluminum can 500 years from now


  • Every ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, 1,000 pounds of coal, and 40 pounds of limestone.
  • A 60-watt light bulb can be run for over a day on the amount of energy saved by recycling 1 pound of steel.
  • In one year in the United States, the recycling of steel saves enough energy to heat and cool 18,000,000 homes!


  • To produce each week’s Sunday newspaper, 500,000 trees must be cut down.
  • If Americans recycled all of their newspapers, we could save 250,000,000 trees a year.
  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. This amounts to about 2,000,000,000 trees per year.
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Each year, 27 million acres of tropical rainforests are destroyed. That’s an area the size of Ohio, and translates to 74,000 acres per day...3,000 acres per hour...50 acres per minute.
  • Each ton (2,000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4,000 kilowatts of energy, and 7,000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.
  • The 17 trees saved (above) can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year. Burning the same ton of paper would create 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.
  • The construction costs of a paper mill designed to use waste paper is 50 to 80% less than the costs of a mill using new pulp.


  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour – most of them are thrown away!
  • In 2006, Americans drank about 167 bottles of water each, but only recycled an average of 23 percent. That leaves 38 billion water bottles in landfills.
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a stewy body of plastic debris is estimated to weigh 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.
  • Recycling plastic versus the use of raw materials results in a reduction of energy consumption by two thirds, reduction of water usage by nearly 90%, production of only a third of the sulphur dioxide and half of the nitrous oxide and a reduction of carbon dioxide generation by two-and-a-half times. (source: Waste Watch)


  • Every month, we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper. All of these jars are recyclable.
  • A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it's in the landfill.
  • The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle can run a 100-watt light bulb for four hours. It also causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
  • Mining and transporting raw materials for glass produces about 385 pounds of waste for every ton of glass that is made. If recycled glass is substituted for half of the raw materials, the waste is cut by more than 80%.


  • The U.S. 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.
  • Although 75% of our trash can be recycled, the EPA set a national goal of 35%.
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