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Lynn Youngblood: Recycling does indeed save energy

Staff Writer
The Examiner
HASH

I was recently at a gathering of close-knit friends from different generations and ages. A young girl about 14 years old, I’ll call Karen, was there. We were gathering aluminum cans to ensure they were recycled and she said she didn’t believe in recycling.

I think everyone just stopped. Stopped moving, stopped talking, perhaps even stopped breathing. This is a very GREEN group.

One of the men asked Karen why she would make such a statement. She said, “Just because.” He asked her again as to how she came to this conclusion and she said that it took more energy to recycle than it did to start with a new product. He asked what information she based this on. She finally admitted that this is what her aunt says. Wow, a misdirected youth all because of a misdirected adult.

After hearing this and pondering it a bit, it seems that this must be the reason that others don’t recycle. So, I thought maybe if people understood some of the energy savings better they would “buy into” recycling better. So, here goes:

• The process of recycling aluminum simply involves re-melting the metal, which is far less expensive and energy intensive than creating new aluminum.

• Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy it takes to make new aluminum from natural resources.

• Energy saved from recycling one ton of aluminum is equal to the amount of electricity the average home uses in 10 years!

• Aluminum is the No. 1 resource that is recycled.

• Energy savings in recycling aluminum in 1993 alone was enough to light a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years.

• American’s throw away enough aluminum every month to rebuild the entire American commercial air fleet.

• The 36 billion aluminum cans put in a landfill last year had a scrap value of more than $600 million. (Someday we'll be mining our landfills for the resources we've buried.)

• We go through 80 billion aluminum cans a year!

• A recycled aluminum can is back on the grocery shelf in as little as 60 days. (So, one can could be recycled six times a year, or be taken out of the loop by one person who does not recycle it).

• Aluminum is a durable and sustainable metal: two-thirds of the aluminum ever produced is in use today.

• Last year 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million barrels of crude oil – America’s entire gas consumption for one day.

• According to the EPA, in 2017, “roughly .6 million tons (or 32.8 percent of all aluminum) was recycled; yet, 2.7 million tons of aluminum still went to the landfill. That’s 1.7 percent of everything in the landfill!”

I hope if you were a non-believer, this has helped convert you to a believer and a can recycler! Check out next week for information on another resource to recycle! And, keep thinking GREEN!

This information was retrieved from the following websites: http://www.recycling-revolution.com/recycling-facts.html and https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/aluminum-material-specific-data

Lynn Youngblood is the executive director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City. Reach her at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.