It’s no surprise that if everyone in America recycled, the country would be a lot cleaner. But recycling offers significant opportunities for economic growth, too. A recent feature in USA Today underscores how recycling can fulfill both environmental and economic needs.
Keep America Beautiful, a recycling advocacy organization, compiled data showing what one act of recycling could do.
They found that if everyone in America recycled:
- One plastic bottle; those materials could make more than 54 million T-shirts, or about 6.5 million fleece jackets;
- One aluminum can; 295 million new aluminum cans could be made and the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be equivalent to taking 6,750 passenger cars off the road (that’s an energy equivalent of 80 thousand barrels of oil), and
- One plastic bag; the material in the bags could be used to make 28,906 park benches or, 144,530 16-foot composite deck boards.
Ranjit Baxi, president of the Bureau of International Recycling, believes the economic impact of recycling has long been under-appreciated.
In an email to USA Today, he said:
“The recycling industry, whilst continuing to promote sustainability, is also projected to add about 850 billion USD to the global GDP by 2025. It is time that all global stakeholders [recognize] the huge carbon emission savings our industry continues to contribute.”
Some of the world’s biggest companies are starting to take advantage of the as-yet untapped savings that recycling can yield. Last year, Apple announced it had recovered 2,204 pounds of gold from recycled iPhones, iMacs, and iPads in 2015.
That much gold has an estimated value of around $40 million.
Recycling isn’t a silver bullet for the ecological crisis. Government regulations and other systemic fixes are important, too. But if everyone recycled, the world could grow both cleaner and richer.
If you want to get started recycling or improve your knowledge about what is and isn’t recyclable, check out Keep America Beautiful’s handy guide (after the jump):
Featured image via YouTube.