Recycling what we can no longer use, rather than tossing it into trash, and from there into Illinois landfills, makes an important contribution to environmental sustainability. Recycling is also just about the very easiest and simplest action anyone can take to help protect our environment. Most important is the contribution recycling makes to saving energy and mitigating the depletion of natural resources.
How does recycling conserve energy? Recycled paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminum and steel cans and other metals all can be processed and made into new products using minimal amounts of energy (think coal, petroleum and natural gas) and water compared to that required to mine metal ores, harvest trees, dig for coal and extract petroleum, transport all raw materials, and then manufacture the products. A few examples:
- Making new cans from recycled aluminum saves 96% of the energy, including non-renewable bauxite ore, that would be required to manufacture cans starting with mining the ore
- Glass is 100% recyclable into new glass bottles and doing so saves about 70% of the energy required when not starting with recycled bottles
- Recycling plastic items that all bear the same plastic number (1-5 and no. 7–the different numbers indicate different kinds of plastic that must be recycled separately) can save at least 70% of the petroleum or natural gas used to make virgin plastic
- Manufacturing new paper from recycled (especially white) paper can conserve 60-70% of the total energy needed to make virgin paper. In today’s economy it’s also useful to note that the recycling industry provides jobs for thousands of persons who might otherwise be unemployed
What is currently being recycled by Blackburn College?
Cardboard, white and colored office-type paper; catalogs, magazines, newspapers and miscellaneous other papers, such as advertisements and wrappings. Last academic year (2009-2010) the College recycled 16,720 lbs of cardboard, 4,400 lbs of office paper and 9,270 lbs of all other kinds of paper. This totalled over 14 tons of paper and cardboard.
- The College recycled 2,001 lbs, or 1 ton, of plastic water and soda bottles.
- The College recycled 2,674 lbs of aluminum cans and other metal, well over 1 ton.