Submitted by the Dalton-Whitfield Regional Solid Waste Management Authority
America Recycles Day is a national nonprofit effort committed to supporting local and national activities and events to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling and to encourage more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment.
It encourages you to pledge to make a personal commitment to step up your recycling efforts over the next year in some way. Visit the America Recycles Day Web site at www.americarecyclesday.org and join millions of other Americans pledging to recycle more this year.
As our America Recycles Day activity, Dalton and Whitfield County are presenting a three-part series of articles on the many environmental and economic benefits of recycling and to publicize the numerous opportunities to recycle here in our community. Hopefully you will learn some new aspects of recycling that will help motivate you to either keep up your current recycling efforts or start recycling today. Even if you can’t personally solve the world’s environmental problems, recycling is one activity you can do on a personal level that truly does make a difference in our environment.
Research clearly indicates that manufacturing new products from recycled materials not only reduces air, land and water pollution, but also saves energy.
A great example is the energy saved in the aluminum industry. Making aluminum cans from raw materials requires the mining of bauxite, shipping it to the U.S., and delivering it to the manufacturing site. Compare that process to simply delivering cans collected in recycling programs to the mills, melting them and producing new cans. The aluminum industry estimates that by making new cans out of old ones they reduce their energy consumption by 95 percent. This same basic principle applies to all of the other recycling commodities – less energy is required to collect, transport and manufacture products from recycling programs than to use raw materials.
The National Recycling Coalition, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, developed an “Environmental Benefits Calculator” that estimates some of the environmental benefits based on the number of tons of the most commonly recycled items. We have plugged in the 2008 totals (17,859,260 pounds) collected in Dalton and Whitfield County and processed by the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority to see the environmental impacts.
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT ESTIMATED AMOUNTS
Trees Saved 8,368 trees
Reduction in Green House Gas Emissions 3,821 tons
Equivalent number of cars kept off road for one year 2,517 cars
Energy saved equivalent to power a home for one year 2,410 homes
Reduction in airborne and water pollutants 2,039 tons
Water saved by just the carpet tons recycled 639,796 gallons
Additionally, some specialized items were recycled in Dalton and Whitfield County last year. They are important materials that have the potential to pollute our environment if not disposed of properly. We will discuss our Household Hazardous Waste Facility in the next article.
COMMODITY AMOUNT RECYCLED HAZARDOUS COMPONENT
Electronics 10.23 tons Arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium
Batteries 4.9 tons Lead, mercury
Waste Oil 49.25 tons 1 qt can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water
Tires 180.25 tons Mosquito and other vermin habitat
Recycling, by its very nature, saves natural resources. Instead of withdrawing natural resources from the Earth to produce products, we simply take the old ones already created and make them into new products. Except for paper, all the other items can be remanufactured over and over again without losing their essential properties.
We also have some really important economic benefits from strong recycling programs. There are 15 paper mills in Georgia and all of them use some recycled fiber. Nine of them use recycled newspaper exclusively to make their products. These mills represent 25,000 jobs with an annual payroll of $1 million. Almost one-third of all the plastic bottles recycled in the United States gets recycled right here in northwest Georgia and made into carpet. Another benefit - one barrel of oil (42 gallons) is saved by recycling just 3,700 two-liter bottles.
We lose revenues when we send perfectly good recyclables to the landfill and bury them instead of getting them into the recycling stream to be used as feed stock in the manufacturing process. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs did an exhaustive waste characterization study of our landfills in 2004 and discovered that approximately 2.6 million tons of recyclables were going into our landfills in the state of Georgia. In addition to the valuable landfill space used to bury things that had other places to go, the lost revenues on those recyclables were calculated at $250 million based on market prices at the time. Talk about wasted resources!
We sincerely hope that this information will better help you understand that recycling affects us all in positive ways and has the true potential of offering us, as individuals, something to do that definitely generates positive impacts on our community, our nation and our world. So the next time you get ready to dispose of something, remember that you could probably recycle it instead. For complete lists visit www.cityofdalton-ga.gov (click on Departments, then Public Works, then Recycling Instructions) and www.dwswa.org (click on recycling). The city and county programs will be discussed in depth in the next two articles.
Remember that "recycling is smart, so please do your part, and don't waste your chance to recycle.
Editor's note: Watch The Daily Citizen Web site for the next two articles.