How Much Do We Recycle?

photo of cans
Photo courtesy of Rodale Stock Images.

We recycle over half of our aluminum. Making a new aluminum can out of an old one saves of the energy used to make the can from bauxite ore. It also prevents nearly all the industrial waste and pollution caused by mining new ore. New cans are back in the store in as little as 6 weeks.
We recycle about 38% of all paper. Paper fibers can be recycled several times before they become too weak and must be discarded. Using recycled paper to make new paper saves much of the energy and resources consumed by making paper from logs.

photo of phone books
Photo courtesy of the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

photo of glass bottles
Photo courtesy of Rodale Stock Images.

We recycle about 20% of our glass. Making recycled glass uses less energy and makes less than making new glass because crushed recycled glass melts at a lower temperature than the virgin components of glass.
We recycle only 5% of all plastic, but 45% of the type of plastic used to make soda bottles. Although some plastics look alike, they can be made of different ingredients. They must be carefully separated because one small piece of one kind can ruin a whole truckload of another kind.

photo of plastic containers
Photo courtesy of the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Back Rotten Truth home Next

© The Rotten Truth web site was created in 1998 by the Association of Science-Technology Centers Incorporated and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Rotten Truth (About Garbage) links to a number of activities and resources provided by institutions other than ASTC and SITES. Every effort has been made to ensure that these links are accurate, but because neither ASTC nor SITES controls the content of these web sites, outside links are not guaranteed to be correct or active. Neither ASTC nor SITES shall be liable in the event of incidental or consequential damages connected with, or arising out of, providing the information offered here. External sites are not endorsed by ASTC or the Smithsonian Institution.