Saving the planet is a goal that many people have and one of the most popular methods of helping on an individual level is to recycle. By recycling items that we’ve used into new items, fewer natural resources need to be used and this creates a more beautiful, more useable planet for future generations. At least that’s the theory. Is that also the reality?
Recycling Program Facts
As of 2009, over 9,000 curbside recycling programs existed in the United States.
The recycling industry isn’t just about providing a feel-good atmosphere for the planet. It is a very profitable industry as well, generating over $200 billion in revenues annually and employing over 1 million people. Americans were able to reclaim 34% of the waste they produced through these recycling programs, but there is always room for improvement.
Key Facts About the Recycling Industry
1. In the United States, 100,000 aluminum cans are recycled every minute, which is important because 20 recycled cans can be made with the same energy output it takes to make 1 brand new can.
2. Only 25% of electronics that had reached their end of life usefulness were reclaimed through recycling programs.
3. 1 ton of natural resources are conserved for every 1 ton of glass that is reclaimed for recycling. In the United States, that means 3 million tons of natural resources were conserved in 2009.
Takeaway: There are a lot of positive numbers coming out of the recycling industry, but there is also a lot of room for improvement. For example, only 8% of all mobile phones are ever recycled. In 2009, Americans alone threw away almost $3 billion worth of paper! Imagine what could have been done with that value had the paper been recycled instead of thrown out for waste?
Essential Trends in the Recycling Industry
1. Scrap recycling helps to transform 150 million metric tons of unusable metal into new goods every year.
2. The average operations manager working within the recycling industry earned over $90,000 per year in salary as of 2010.
3. The average annual growth of this industry has been 3.3% over the past 5 years.
4. Automotive recycling efforts accounted for $22 billion in revenues in the last year.
5. Vehicle recycling has accounted for the manufacturing of over 10 million new vehicles since 1997.
Takeaway: Recycling is increasing because people are seeing that there is both value and profitability in its practice. As better recycling practices continue to be created, the margins of profitability will continue to increase and that will only further the positive cycle of trash reclamation that is being seen on a global scale. Just think – every time you recycle something instead of throw it away, you’re saving the planet just a little bit. That’s even better than profits!