Why do we recycle?
Energy, Economy and Environment: The Three 'E's
By choosing to recycle, we reduce fossil fuel demand, create jobs in Minnesota, conserve natural resources and benefit the environment in innumerable ways. Great news for Minnesota's citizens, businesses and wildlife!
Recycling saves energy.
Manufacturing products from recycled materials uses far less energy than manufacturing the same product from virgin (new) materials. It takes 90% less energy to manufacture an aluminum can from recycled aluminum. Recycled glass? About 50% less energy. Recycled paper? About 75% less energy. Recycling thus decreases our demand for fossil fuels and increases our energy independence.
Residential recycling in 2006 saved enough energy to power all of the homes in Aitkin, Beltrami, Benton, Cook, Crow Wing, Houston, Kandiyohi, Kittson, Lac qui Parle, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, McLeod, Mille Lacs, Polk, Rice, Rock and Sherburne Counties for an entire year! That's more than 200,000 households!
Recycled materials are used by many Minnesota companies because they can be manufactured into a variety of products, from recycled content paper to building supplies.
Recycling benefits our economy.
Recycling helps support local markets and businesses statewide. And that's not just a warm fuzzy feeling, it's a fact backed up with cold, hard cash.
Recycling creates jobs: approximately 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are directly and indirectly supported by the industry. These jobs pay an estimated $1.96 billion in wages and add nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota's economy.
Recycling generates profit: Our recyclable material has tremendous economic value. In 2010, Minnesota recycling programs collected approximately 2.5 million tons of material worth $690 million.
Not recycling costs money: Another 1.2 million tons of recyclable material was thrown away, but could easily have been recycled for an additional estimated value of $285 million dollars. Instead, it cost Minnesota over $200 million to throw it away into landfills.
Recycling protects our environment.
You now know that recycling reduces energy use. This also means recycling directly decreases greenhouse gas emissions and reduces Minnesota’s carbon footprint. Not only that, recycling has indirect benefits to climate change as well -- take paper recycling, for instance. Each mature tree we don't cut down can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants and carbon dioxide out of our air each year.
Recycling and buying recycled products helps keep Minnesota's lakes and rivers clean. Manufacturing products from recycled materials generates significantly less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin (new) materials. Manufacturing recycled white office paper creates 74% less air pollutants and 35% less water pollutants than making it from virgin (new) wood pulp.
And of course, using recycled materials to manufacture products conserves natural resources, such as water and timber. Environmentally, the impact of recycling is exponential.