- reduces the demand on our natural resources,
- saves valuable landfill space, and
- creates opportunities for new industries.
If we don't recycle, we will eventually run out of space for all of our trash. What will we do with it then?
One person creates 360 pounds of food and yard waste per year. Instead of going to a landfill, this waste can be transformed into rich fertilizer in your own backyard. Composting uses natural processes to encourage the rapid decomposition of yard clippings, leaves, and food. Compost can be mixed into soil or put around plants to add more organic material and nutrients and to help them grow.
Tips on composting:
Leaves, grass clippings, fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, eggshells, nutshells, saw dust (in limited amounts) and wood ash (in limited amounts) can all be included in a compost pile or bin. Meat, fish, dairy, animal fat, human or animal feces, and poisonous plants (i.e. poison ivy) should not be put in a compost pile (or compost bin). In addition, materials that attract pests and nuisance animals should be avoided.
Compost piles that contain food scraps should be kept in an enclosure of some sort. This enclosure needs to allow for occasional mixing. You can build your own or check your local hardware stores for pre-made compost structures. Some of the links below provide instructions for building your own compost bin.
The type of materials that you put in your compost bin will affect the decomposition rate. For best results, be sure to add both leaves and nitrogen-rich food and grass. Materials such as fresh-cut grass and food waste require a lot of oxygen to decompose; whereas, materials such as dead leaves and dry hay do not. A balance of the two is necessary for good compost.
Try the following techniques to hasten the decomposition process:
- Place the pile in a warm place.
- Keep the pile relatively damp.
- Shred materials before placing them in the pile.
- Aerate the pile to increase the amount of oxygen. Mixing the pile occasionally will speed up the rate of decay. Mixing can occur as frequently as every three days or as infrequently as every six weeks.
For More Information:
You can get more information about composting from the PA Department of Environmental Protection or your local library. Information on composting can also be found on the following websites:
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension
- Ohio State University Cooperative Extension
- NRCS Backyard Conservation Composting Information
All About Recycled Glass
When we recycle 1 ton of glass, we save 1 ton of resources. Not only do we save resources by recycling glass, we reduce air pollution. Producing one ton of new glass creates 27.8 pounds of air pollution, while processing recycled glass produces 14-20% less air pollution. In addition glass can be recycled forever!! (Environmental Systems of America, Inc.)
What can recycled glass be used for?
Recycled glass can be used to make new glass bottles and jars, insulation, and construction materials, such as road aggregate. Recycled glass is also turned into glass pebbles for fish bowls and vases. Artisans are using recycled glass for everything from jewelry to stained glass to vases. The possible uses for recycled glass are nearly endless.
All About Recycled Metal
Aluminum, steel, and bi-metal materials are collected as part of the residential recycling program. Generally speaking, aluminum is the most valuable of household recycled materials. Recycled aluminum cans are used to create new aluminum cans, thereby, saving energy and resources. One recycled can saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for 3.5 hours (PA DEP). Using recycled aluminum saves 80% of the total energy consumed when aluminum is produced from scratch (Thoreau Center for Sustainability).
Steel and bi-metal can also be efficiently recycled into new products. Canned vegetables, tuna, and soup are usually packaged in recycled and recyclable steel or bi-metal cans. Even the steel in cars can be reclaimed and used again in new cars. In fact, most new cars contain at least some recycled steel.
Recycled metal is also used to create folk art. For example, some craftsmen turn flat vegetable cans into frames for photos. There are a number of ways that metal can be recycled and reused; it just takes a little creativity to figure out how.
Did you know? It takes 500 years for an aluminum can to decompose.
All About Recycled Paper
There are many benefits associated with recycling and one of these is the conservation of resources. Recycling just one ton of paper saves 17 trees. It also saves 6,953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, 9 cubic yards of landfill space, and 4,077 Kilowatt hours of energy (Environmental Systems of America, Inc.). To top it off, newspapers can take 5 years to decompose. What do you think: is newspaper worth recycling?
Paper can be recycled for many uses. To start, paper can be recycled into toilet paper, paper towels, newspaper, and office paper. Recycled paper is not just found in the grocery store though; it is also used for construction materials, such as insulation, wallboard, flooring, padding, and more. In addition, recycled paper is repulped and molded into egg cartons, fruit trays, and flower pots. Keep your eyes open for products made from recycled paper, because you may be surprised at how much you can find in your local grocery store. And remember, the higher the percentage of post-consumer waste, the better.
All About Recycled Plastic
There are several types of plastic. The most commonly recycled plastics are high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE). HDPE (plastic marked with a "2") is the colored or opaque plastic usually used for things like laundry detergent bottles and milk jugs. PET (plastic marked with a "1") is the clear plastic usually used for things like soda bottles and cleaning products. Other plastics are recycled less frequently, such as the plastic used for grocery bags. Some area grocery stores have bins for used plastic bags. If you are going to use plastic bags, be sure to return them to the grocery store.
What is recycled plastic used for?
You can find recycled plastics in many products. Recycled HDPE is used for laundry detergent bottles, trash bins, plastic pipes, construction materials, and many other products. Recycled PET is used for cleaning product bottles, carpets, tool handles, auto parts, sleeping bag insulation, and jacket insulation. In fact, the new collection barrels in your local parks are made from recycled plastic jugs.
Why recycle plastic?
It takes 20 years for a plastic bag to decompose and 250 years for a plastic cup to decompose.
Buy Recycled. Recycled materials are used to create new products. To maintain recycling programs, people need to purchase items made of recycled products. By purchasing recycled products, you are "closing the loop". Not only do you save energy and resources, but you also promote a new market. Recycled materials can be found in everything from back packs to bird feeders. Check products to see if they are made and packaged with recycled material.
Buy products with less packaging. Buying in bulk is one way to reduce waste from packaging. Watch out for bulk items that have individually wrapped items inside; buying these products does not help reduce waste.
Buy products that are reusable. Avoid buying one-time use products, such as paper plates, plastic forks, etc. Consider using cloth napkins instead of paper.
Bring your own shopping bags. How many plastic or paper bags do you use every month for shopping? How about a year? How about a lifetime? Using canvas bags (or similar reusable bags) eliminates the waste caused by using plastic or paper bags every time you go shopping. Another option is to bring your plastic or paper bags back to the grocery store so they can be used a few more times before they go into the trash or into recycling boxes.
For more information about recycled products:
Check out the Pennsylvania Resource Council's "Buyer's Guide to Recycled Products" at www.prc.org or 1-800-GO-TO-PRC.
What can you do to reduce waste?
Eliminate junk mail. 4.2 million tons of junk mail were thrown in the trash during 1998 (US EPA, 2000). Not only can you recycle junk mail, you can choose not to receive it. Here are a few ways to eliminate unwanted junk mail.
- To stop credit card offer mailings, you can call 1-800-5-OPT-OUT.
- To get off most national mailings, contact Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008.
- To get rid of specific catalogs or junk mail that you do not want to receive, contact those businesses directly and ask to have your name taken off their mailing lists.
Compost. You can compost leaves, grass, fruit and vegetables, coffee grinds, and more. You can find more information about composting on this website and from the Ohio State University Cooperative Extension's website.
Only Buy What You Need. When grocery shopping, avoid buying more food than you can eat. When painting, measure the walls before you buy the paint, so that you can buy just what you need.
Donate Your Clothes and Furniture. Many non-profit organizations, such as Goodwill and The Salvation Army, will accept used clothing, furniture, cars, and household goods. Some organizations will even pick up donations at your home.
Use Both Sides of the Paper. When using your home printer, consider printing on both sides of the paper. You can also use the back of unwanted paper for grocery lists, phone messages, and other notes.
For more information about reducing waste:
Check out the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance at: www.reduce.org.
Did You Know?
The average person in Pennsylvania generates 4.8 pounds of solid waste per day or 1,752 pounds per year!! (Pennsylvania Resource Council)
3% of America's energy is used for producing packaging (PA DEP).
One pound of recycled steel saves 5.450 BTU's of energy or 26 hours of a 60-watt bulb (PA DEP).
Americans throw away enough paper every year to build a 12 feet high wall from Los Angeles to New York (Environmental Defense).
- Wash all bottles and containers. This keeps bugs away and prevents contamination.
- Throw the caps away.
- Put your newspapers in a paper bag or tie them in bundles.
- Do not place broken glass in recycling.
It is important to know exactly what your waste hauler accepts. Some haulers accept more materials than others. To find out exactly what your hauler accepts, contact their customer service department and ask them to send you information about what they recycle.
- America Recycles Day
- EPA Office of Solid Waste
- Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- Ways to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Plastic Containers
Appliance and Electronics Recycling Guide
Click here to get more information on recycling of appliances and electronics: https://www.montcopa.org/637/Recycling-Information
Recycling Grants in Pennsylvania
Act 101 - Section 902
Municipal Recycling Program Grant
The Pennsylvania DEP will fund up to 90% of municipal recycling program costs. Municipalities can use these grants to create an educational program, to find markets for recyclable materials, to buy collection and processing equipment, to develop a composting program, and more. More information on this grant can be obtained by going to: www.dep.state.pa.us.
Act 101 - Section 904
Municipal Recycling Program Performance Grant
The Municipal Recycling Performance Grant is awarded to municipalities for their recycling effort. The grant award increases as the municipal recycling rate increases. Municipalities can apply for this grant annually. Applicants must provide a breakdown of the materials recycled by residential and commercial establishments. More information on this grant can be obtained by going to: www.dep.state.pa.us.