Today is America Recycles Day! It’s one of my favorite days of the year (along with Earth Day and Christmas) since it brings attention to all the benefits of recycling. America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day and coast-to-coast community-driven awareness campaign dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States.
It has been held on, and in the weeks leading into, November 15 since 1997. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, America Recycles Day educates people about the importance of recycling to our economy and environmental well-being, and helps to motivate occasional recyclers to become everyday recyclers.
“America Recycles Day provides a key moment in time to regain momentum for recycling in America, and to help make recycling a daily social norm across the country,” said Brenda Pulley, senior vice president, recycling, Keep America Beautiful. “Take the “#BeRecycled” Pledge and invite your friends, family and neighbors to do the same. Let’s get people recycling in every aspect of their lives – at home, at work and on the go!”
To celebrate the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority hosted an America Recycles Day Billboard Design contest for middle schoolers. During the month of November, you’ll see two billboards in the area with the recycling message, “I recycle! Do you?”. One is located on Glenwood Ave. near the Sign Shop of Dalton, and the second is on East Walnut Ave. near the First Bank of Dalton. This year’s featured artwork is by Valley Point Middle School 7th grader, Lily Woodring.
You can celebrate too by visiting the official website, AmericaRecyclesDay.org, to take the #BeRecycled pledge along with more than 70,000 others individuals who care about the environment. When you sign the pledge, you commit to learn about the materials collected in your community for recycling, take an action step to improve your recycling during the next month, and to encourage a friend or family member to also take the pledge. Aside from the #BeRecycled Pledge, people can be part of the recycling solution by being more mindful of how to properly recycle products in the home and elsewhere.
For products to be recycled successfully they need to be emptied, free of contamination or trash, and placed in the correct recycling bin. For example, a plastic soda bottle should be emptied, crushed if possible, and have the lid put back on before being placed in a curbside recycling bin. Used pizza boxes, which are made of cardboard, should not be recycled if they have excessive amounts of cheese and grease. Food residue on the box is contamination that hurts the recycling process.
According the study, “Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging” the value lost by discarding packaging rather than recycling is estimated to be $11.4 Billion. In other words, recycling can help reduce the need for landfills because material re-enters the marketplace as new products. For example, sixty percent of paper collected for recycling in the US is made into products like cereal boxes, tissues, and file folders that consumers have the opportunity to purchase and use again. Fewer trees are used to manufacture paper products, which helps preserve the environment for future generations.
The Georgia Recycling Coalition reports that recycling benefits our state’s economy too. Georgia is home to one of the largest infrastructures in the country for processing recyclables of all kinds which leads to tremendous economic value from recycling. More than 120 businesses in Georgia use recycled materials to make new products which results in 23,000 jobs being sustained by what we put in the recycling bin on a daily basis.
For example, Novelis, one of the world’s largest aluminum recyclers, has it North American headquarters in Atlanta and recycles used beverage cans in Greensboro. The process of recycling a used aluminum beverage can into a new beverage can that is back on store shelves takes an average of 60 days. There are also six companies in Georgia recycling glass containers to make new products such as new glass bottles and fiberglass insulation.
Recycling also brings an environmental benefit to the community by reducing air and water pollution, saving energy, and reducing water usage during the manufacturing process. For example, there is a 90 percent energy savings when aluminum products are made from recycled aluminum instead of the raw or virgin material. When you look at all the benefits, there’s not really a reason to not recycle. So go on… take the pledge already and celebrate with me!