Some folks are asking the question of, “what’s in it for me when I recycle?”
The truth is that recycling does not save an individual much up front money. Some folks get their cash deposit back when they turn in beverage bottles and cans on a government-mandated program. Michigan has such a program; other states like Ohio do not.
We do save money when we recycle some items within our household. At our house, we save shipping boxes that might be the right size for sending stuff to the grand kids. That way we do not have to buy boxes to ship the next batch of books and stuffed animals. That saves us money and box shopping time.
Who saves real money by recycling?
The real savings from recycling goes to manufactures and they pass it on to their customers as lower prices. Using recycled material also lowers the stress on the environment compared to making products from raw materials. Recycling lowers the raw material and energy costs of making products so they can be sold at lower prices in stores.
Here are some examples:
Recycling aluminum reduces the amount of energy needed by 95% compared to smelting it from the raw ore. We see the benefit as a lower price for a can of our favorite beverage. The savings per can is small so we don’t take notice that it comes from recycling.
That energy savings is very significant to the manufacturer. It also means less coal needs to be burned to make the electricity used in processing the raw ore into aluminum. Recycling aluminum keeps the price of aluminum products down at the store. Aluminum cookware, foil and cans would all cost more if we didn’t recycle.
Other metals such as copper, iron and steel all can be recycled to reduce pollution and save money. Scrap metal dealers will trade cash for metal that can be recycled. GM gets good money for all the scrap steel and other metals that are recycled. As part of the job, we need to sort each type of metal and collect every piece to get the maximum savings from recycling metal.
Recycling plastics reduces the amount of energy needed by 70% compared to making it from raw materials. Milk jugs, pop bottles and other plastic items can be remade and a lower cost and reduced environmental impact by recycling. Individuals don’t make money recycling plastic but you can help to keep prices at the stores down and reduce the stress on the environment by recycling.
Recycling plastic also reduces the amount of oil used to make it. When the price of oils goes up the price of plastic goes up, unless it is made from recycled material. When you recycle plastic, you are helping to hold the price of gasoline down. Think about that next time you fill up.
Recycling paper reduces the amount of energy needed by 60% compared to making it from raw materials. Making new paper from recycled paper is far less expensive than making it from trees. Sorting and collecting office paper helps us to get the most benefit from recycling paper. The pay off is a lower price for office supplies when more paper is needed.
Glass is a problem. Recycling glass can save 30% of the energy used in making new glass from sand, but an extra step is needed. The recycled glass can only be used if it is sorted for color. Green glass, brown glass and clear glass cannot be mixed if the color of the recycled glass product is to be right.
The sorting of glass bottles by color can only be done by people and paying folks to sort glass makes it too expensive. Glass bottle manufacturers recycle glass from sources where they can rely on getting the right color. Most of the glass that is recycled comes from bottles and it is used to make more bottles.
Recycling Some of the Energy
The energy that is tied up in the trash can be reclaimed. There is good fuel value in most trash. An example is oil soaked rags and other oily waste can be used as fuel by companies that make cement. When they burn trash, it means that they use less natural gas or coal. Using trash for part of their fuel needs saves fuel for other uses, like heating homes.
Some electric power generation plants have been built with the ability to burn a mixture of trash and coal.
A good deal for all of us.
Recycling may not put money in your pocket right away, but it does save your money when you go shopping. Recycling is a big help for the environment and for conservation of resources.
You benefit from recycling by: • Lower prices when you shop • By reducing pollution • By saving natural resources.
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