This Is Why We Recycle

It’s easy to overlook the vital role recycling plays in the manufacturing industry. It's just empty packaging to you and me, but for manufacturers, our recyclables are raw materials for creating new packaging and products.  

Did you know aluminum cans are made from over 70% recycled aluminum? Glass bottles and jars are made from about 35% recycled glass.  And cardboard boxes are about 60% recycled paper fibers.

Recycling protects our natural resources   

There are only two sources for raw materials, either we take them from nature or we reclaim the raw materials we already have in hand through recycling. 

Recycling makes a huge contribution to conserving natural resources, remember those recycled content numbers above! Without recycling, more trees are cut for paper, more oil is drilled for plastic, more bauxite, sand, and iron ore are mined to make aluminum, glass and steel.  

It probably no surprise that the recycling process is also less polluting and energy-intensive than creating raw materials from scratch.  Earth for the win! 

How COVID has shifted the supply and demand for recycling

Recently we’ve all been impacted by shortages of common supplies like disinfectant wipes, paper towels, and toilet paper. Similarly, the pandemic has shaken up the supply and demand for recycled materials too. 

The paper market has been hit especially hard. As more of us work and school from home, the previously dependable supply of recycled cardboard and paper from schools, hotels, and factories has diminished.  At the same time, online shopping has spiked causing an increase in demand for cardboard shipping boxes. 

Likewise, the supply of recycled glass bottles and aluminum cans is down due to the temporary closure of recycling redemption centers in several counties and states. 

What you can do, at work and at home.

Businesses, condos, and multifamily apartment buildings with 5 or more units: 

If you don't have a recycling program, now is the time to start. Not only do manufacturers need your recycling, but all Chicago buildings are required by law to provide recycling services. Another benefit is that buildings who set up recycling may see a drop in their overall waste fees. 

Here’s everything you need to know to start recycling in a business, condo, or apartment building with more than 4 units. The article also provides tips for tenants looking to nudge their building managers into compliance.  

At home: 

Brush up on your recycling skills by checking out the Chicago recycling guide and then feed your blue cart everything you can.  Think you already know what's up? Take the all-new myth-busting Recycling Quiz and prove it to yourself in about 2 minutes.   

Reminder, please don't wish-cycle. If you’re not sure if something is recyclable, please look it up or leave it out.  Do not try to recycle items that are non-recyclable, like plastic bags and plastic wrap. They only cause problems and will end up at the landfill anyway. 

If you can reuse it, do it! 

Recycling helps shore up manufacturers' demand but re-using packaging does that too, without all the energy that's needed to recycle, produce, and transport new packaging. 

Have boxes you can't use? Maybe someone in your neighborhood can. On platforms like NextDoor and Facebook marketplace, moving boxes are a hot commodity. 

Glass packaging is another easy one to reuse. 

Gross, not gross? That little 'Patrón' bottle (now used for olive oil) was rescued from the bushes. 

I try to buy glass containers whenever possible because they're beautiful and I prefer them over plastic for storing food and liquids or buying in bulk.  What are your favorite kinds of containers to reuse?  Snap a photo and share them with us @recyclebycity on facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #reuse. 




Stay informed.

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