Ever wonder how to impact the consumption of oil? The supply and demand principle is the way. Knee-jerk reaction is stop driving. Yes, that will make an impact, but how would you react if you could make a bigger impact in your kitchen, laundry, bathroom and trash can than you can in your car?
The production of recyclable materials consumes more fossil fuel than all of the cars in the United Sates. By reducing the amount of virgin polyethylene for plastic containers, glass from sand and feldspar, fresh paper from trees, and aluminum, tin and steel cans from ore, everyone can control fuel consumption by recycling.
By exercising the law of supply and demand, consumers have direct control over the cost of their own energy consumption, both electric and gasoline. On with the statistics:
- Recycling aluminum cans consumes 96% less energy than producing from ore, produces 95% less air pollution and produces 97% less water pollution.
- Recycling one glass bottle will light a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours. Producing glass from recycled glass reduces solid waste by 75% and air pollution by up to 20%.
- Recycling one ton of plastic bottles reduces oil consumption by 1.8 tons. Recycling one pound of PET plastic (soda & water bottles) saves 12,000 BTU of energy. Recycling one plastic bottle conserves enough energy to fuel a 60-watt light bulb for almost six hours.
- Recycling one ton of paper saves 380 gallons of oil- enough to drive a car 1,260 miles- and conserves 4,077 kilowatt hours of energy or enough to heat and cool an average American home for 6 months.
- Recycling the 39,000,000 appliances last year produced enough steel to build 160 football stadiums. Of the 100,000,000 steel and tin cans used in America everyday, enough cans are thrown away to build all of the cars in America.
Not About Consumer Gasoline
Plastic production is the single largest consumer of oil at 8% of the world’s total oil consumption. Recycling of one-tenth (1/10) of American HDPE bottles (detergent, milk and shampoo bottles) would keep 200,000,000 pounds of solid waste out of land fills and save all of the gasoline necessary to transport it.
Aluminum recycling of one ton of cans will conserve 12,725 kilowatt hours, equal to the amount of the electricity used in the average American home in 10 years. This energy is the equivalent to 2,350 gallons of gasoline, or enough to drive a new car 82,250 miles.
Producing glass from only 50% post consumer recycled glass saves 1,330 pounds of sand, 151 pounds of feldspar, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone and 288 pounds of mining waste, as well as all of the fuel necessary to transport and process these materials.
Of the 62,000,000 newspapers printed today, 44,000,000 will be thrown away- the equivalent of 30,000,000 trees. Recycling one ton of paper reduces the use of processed energy by a minimum of 64% in addition to the savings of the fuel consumed by transporting and processing the trees.
American steel and tin recycling currently saves enough electrical energy each year to light Los Angeles (18,000,000 homes) for eight years. Recycling one car saves 1,400 pounds of coal, 120 pounds of limestone, 2,500 pounds of iron ore and all of the fuel to mine and transport the raw materials.
Use Less Oil
Take on oil companies by reducing the need for oil. One recycled aluminum can will save enough gasoline to fill the can half full, and recycling one six pack of aluminum cans would save enough gasoline to drive 5 miles. Producing plastic grocery bags from recycled plastic reduces energy consumption by 67%.
Recycling is more than just conserving the air, trees, coal, natural resources and oil on Earth. It is keeping money in your pocket.
Sources: California Integrated Waste Management Board, International Aluminum Institute, Steel Recycling Institute, bringrecycling.org, Novelis, EarthWorks Group, San Diego County Office of Education, wmich.edu, EPA, South Carolina Electric & Gas, recyclenow.org, wastewatch.org, wasteonline.org.uk, sks-bottle.com
(In an ongoing effort to keep M3 from being listed as a spam site, the links for this article have been foregone. The websites can be copied and pasted into a browser. Googling any of the other entities with the search term “recycling” will yield the statistics featured in this post.)
How many plastic bottles are in your bathroom and refrigerator right now? How many cans have you thrown away in the last week? What is the price of gasoline where you live? Could you cut your consumption of virgin polyethylene by recycling more than one in ten bottles?
(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2008-2012
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