The Benefits of Recycling

Environmental:

Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Saving Resources

Beverage containers require fossil fuels to produce. Using recycled material is an important component in reducing energy and fuel consumption in the manufacturing of new containers. But additionally, markets for new products made from recycled materials are being developed every day. And supply is not  keeping up with demand.

Recycling not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills or incinerated, but recycling in the twenty-first century can significantly reduce overall energy consumed and pollution generated when recovered materials substitute virgin materials.

“Mining silica or bauxite ore and drilling for petroleum and natural gas are primary extractive industries necessary for the production of glass, aluminum and plastics. Recycling post consumer goods is secondary extraction of valuable aluminum, glass and plastic containers, and the recovery of the energy that was used to transform primary raw materials into consumer products in the first place. Recycling significantly diminishes all of the inputs needed to make the replacement product from virgin materials. Avoiding these ‘up-stream’ functions means significantly reducing energy usage and associated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”  - “Mitigating Climate Change,” May 2013 by the Container Recycling Institute

Reducing litter and saving money

It is widely recognized that beverage container deposit systems collect more material that would never be recycled at curbside because the deposit provides a motivator for people to recycle on the go. Approximately 70% of beverages are consumed away from home in restaurants, bars, recreational areas, at work, at school, etc. and without the incentive of deposit redemption, these containers would either be thrown away or become litter, costing taxpayers money for cleanup.

Industry/Economics:

Deposit systems like Michigan’s process 100% of the collected material, providing the maximum yield for industry because there is no contamination from commingling other materials.

“Each year, Americans use and dispose of as many as 200 billion aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers, wasting valuable materials sought by manufacturers. Empty beverage containers represent a significant amount of revenue as a secondary raw material for new products. Last year alone, in terms of aluminum cans and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles only, about $2.3 billion in material value was buried in a landfill or burned in an incinerator.

“In addition to seeking recycled containers for their value in reducing carbon emissions, ‘material security’ is a key concern among manufacturers as they need to ensure stable, affordable and clean supplies of raw material for production.”   - “A Multi-Faceted Approach” by Chuck Riegle, Recycling Today Magazine, July 2009

Employment:

The beverage container recycling industry in Michigan has created thousands of jobs with the potential to create many more.

Beverage container deposit systems like Michigan’s provide “11 to 38 times more direct jobs than curbside recycling systems for used beverage containers. Material throughput (the amount of material entering and leaving the system) is the primary driver of recycling jobs. Deposit-return systems recover approximately three times more beverage container material than the closest competitor, curbside recycling, in the US.”   - “Recycling and Jobs” by Clarissa Morawski, Dec 2011/Jan2012, www.solidwastemag.com

Five Facts About Beverage Container Recycling and Jobs

1. Depending on the system, container deposit-return (CDR) systems create 11 to 38 times more jobs than curbside recycling.

2. On average, states with deposit-return systems recover roughly three times more beverage containers than non-CDR states.

3. Jobs gained from recycling far exceed any jobs lost in virgin extraction, landfilling or domestic manufacturing.

4. U.S. PET reclaimers currently operate at less than 60% capacity due to a lack of quality source materials.

5. The U.S. loses 800 jobs per year to overseas markets due to the export of PET.