Over the past several weeks a few publications around the country have chosen to print op-ed pieces opining that ‘recycling is dead’ and advocating to throw certain recyclable materials in the trash as opposed to recycling them. While these same fallacies have been around for the last 20 years and disproven by scores of peer-reviewed publications and scholarly articles, the opinion pieces still tend to get more press than any of their fact-based counterparts. To dispel some of the potential confusion about the benefits and costs of sustainable materials management, Denver Recycles would like to share a few facts about recycling. Here are four of the most common myths on the recycling industry.
Myth 1: Recycling does not make sense economically – it’s costly and ineffectual. (FALSE)
Denver recycles gets paid a revenue for every ton of recyclables we deliver to the recycling processor. Conversely, the City pays money for every ton of trash we throw away in the landfill.
· Recycling, reuse, and composting sustains more than 85,000 jobs in Colorado alone.
· State and local tax revenues generated from waste diversion activities amount to nearly $1.3 billion per year. The industry accounts for approximately 5 percent of Colorado’s overall economic output.
Myth 2: Recycling has no real positive environmental impacts, people just do it to make themselves feel good. (FALSE)
· Recycling results in a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants and eight major categories of water pollutants. Last year alone, Denver recycled enough materials to reduce as much greenhouse gas as removing over 24,000 passenger cars of our roads annually.
· Ninety-four percent of the natural resources America uses are non-renewable (up from 59% in 1900 and 88% in 1945). Recycling provides non-virgin inputs to manufacturers, helps conserve non-renewable resources, and reduces energy and water use in manufacturing. These benefits far outweigh the costs and impacts of collection and processing.
Myth 3: Recyclables end up in the landfill anyways so why bother. (FALSE)
· Prices may fluctuate as they do for any commodity, but domestic and international markets exist for all materials collected in our residential recycling and composting programs. The materials in your purple cart are sorted and sold as commodities on the open-market.
· The aluminum cans in your purple cart can be recycled and returned to a store shelf as a new can in just 60 days.
Myth 4: Recycling is the best materials related activity you can take reduce your environmental footprint. (FALSE)
· Recycling is easy to do and it has great economic and environmental benefits, but it is not the absolute best materials related activity you can do to help the environment. Reducing what you use in the first place, and then reusing materials or donating them to charity, are the best ways you can make a positive impact on materials management in Denver.
For more information about recycling, background and sources for the recycling facts in this article, or if you want to ask more questions about recycling, please contact Denver Recycles at DenverRecycles@Denvergov.org.
Article provided by: Denver Recycles Roundup