Recycling by the numbers
Industrial waste management can be difficult. Waste streams are complicated to measure, track, and evaluate, especially when you’re talking about industrial by-products. In general, Americans have a sense that recycling is good—and that we should be doing more, both individually and corporately, to increase our sustainability efforts. But do you know exactly how good recycling can be for the environment and for your business?
Did You Know?
Waste Stream Composition
- While the U.S. produces around 236 million tons of municipal solid waste every year, the numbers for industrial waste are far less clear. Some estimates go as high as 7.6 billion tons of industrial waste produced every year.
- Some big cities have to ship their municipal and industrial waste, paying other states to take it in for them. New York City, for example, spends around $1 million a day on long-haul trash.
- Currently, the U.S. recycles about 30% of its waste stream, even though the EPA estimates that up to 75% of our waste stream is recyclable. Over 60% of the average landfill is composed of paper, metals, glass, plastics, and food waste.
- About one-third of an average dump is made up of packaging material.
- Only 1% of all plastic products in the United States are recycled every year, as are only 1% of all aluminum products.
- Paper and cardboard make up the majority of industrial waste products. This means that the average company can make a big impact simply by establishing a paper and cardboard recycling program.
- Americans throw away 25 million plastic bottles per hour.
- Out of every $10 spent buying things; $1 (10%) goes for packaging that is thrown away. Packaging represents about 65% of household trash.
Industrial Waste Management: Trash as a Commodity
- On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.
- Selling industrial waste as a commodity has become a $57 billion industry in the United States. Some companies even sell their waste to other countries, like China.
Benefits of Industrial Recycling
- The Washington, DC-based Institute For Local Self-Reliance calculates that recycling creates 36 jobs per 10,000 tons of material recycled compared to 6 jobs for every 10,000 of tons brought to traditional disposal facilities.
- The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
- Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.
- It costs about 50 to 80% less to construct a paper mill designed to use waste paper compared to the construction costs of a mill designed to use new pulp.
- 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.
- 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 light 18,000,000 homes.
As you can see, businesses can have a huge impact on the environment, on our energy dependence, and on their own bottom line by taking steps to recycle more and landfill less. One of the simplest places to start is with a strong cardboard recycling program, as this is a valuable commodity that is easy to move. If you’re interested in finding out more about how Recover’s comprehensive industrial waste management solutions can help you run your business more efficiently, get in touch!