Recycling is a process that turns used materials into new resources rather than disposing of them. It also saves energy, reduces pollution and decreases the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air. Confused about what can be recycled? Every community has different rules and requirements, but a few recyclable items are common most everywhere.
Aluminium cans are an easy item to recycle because they are seen almost every day in the form of soda cans. With the energy you save by recycling one aluminium can, a television can run for three hours. It takes almost 400 years for a simple soda can to break down in a landfill. Recycling cans may even put a little change in your pocket--some locations offer money for cans.
A variety of plastic containers can be recycled including milk jugs, plastic two-liter and one-liter soda bottles and water bottles. Check with a local recycling centre as some will accept only certain kinds of plastic. The most common types are PETE 1 and HDPE 2. Plastics in the PETE 1 group are found in soda and water bottles and containers such as those for peanut butter and salad dressing. HDPE 2 plastics include bleach and detergent containers, milk jugs and containers for butter and yoghurt. The symbols for each of these plastics types can usually be found on the bottom of the container. The cap also needs to be removed prior to recycling.
Newspaper is one of the easiest and most common items to recycle. In 2003, an estimated 70 per cent of newspapers were recycled. However, the 30 per cent of newspapers that were not recycled represents about 42 million trees, according to Professor's House. Recycling newspaper reduces the need to cut down mature trees and the amount of pollution that goes into the air. Recycling one ton of newspapers also saves about 8,000 gallons of water.
Glass can be a little tricky to recycle. Some recycling centre accept only a certain colour of glass, so it is best to check before recycling just any glass. Items that are never accepted include light bulbs and mirrors.
Steel cans are often used to package foods such as fruits and vegetables and are even used to package some dog food. But these containers also are recyclable. To prepare cans for recycling, rinse each out, place the lid inside and put in a marked recycling bin. The labels do not need to be removed. More than 1134 Kilogram of iron ore and 54.4 Kilogram of limestone are conserved for one ton of steel that is recycled. Enough energy is saved through recycling to power more than 18 million homes for one year.
Paper encompasses a variety of different products including office paper, food and cereal boxes, paperboard and notebook paper. The most common in many home and work environments is office paper. More than 57 per cent of the paper used in the U.S. in 2008 was from recycled paper. Recycling paper and paper products is as simple as placing a container at home or at work to collect office paper. Take the container to a recycling centre once it is full and start again. More than 15 million tons of paper was recycled in 2006. Although the amount is huge, it is believed that only about half of office paper is actually recycled each year.