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Top 10 Most Important Items To Recycle

Top 10 Most Important Items To Recycle
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Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on August 26, 2012. Enjoy!

Get to know the Top 10!

Recycling is one of the most important things we can do to preserve our planet. On a daily basis, more than 100 million Americans participate in recycling used and old materials in their household and offices.

Are you one of them? Or are you trying to sort which items you can recycle and which ones belong in the compost or the garbage?

To help you out, the National Recycling Coalition has put together a list the top ten most important items to recycle.

#1: Aluminum. This is because aluminum cans are 100 percent recyclable and can also be recycled over and over again. Even better, turning recycled cans into new cans takes 95 percent less energy than making brand-new ones. So how about starting with all those soda and juice cans?

#2: PET Plastic Bottles. Americans will buy about 25 billion single-serving bottles of water this year, according to the Container Recycling Institute. Worse yet, nearly 80 percent of those bottles will end up in a landfill. Let’s put a stop to that. Making plastic out of recycled resources uses about two-thirds less energy than making new plastic. And because plastic bottles, more than any other type of plastic, are the most commonly used type, they are usually the easiest to recycle.

#3: Newspaper. This is a pretty obvious one, right? It seems like a no-brainer to set up a recycling bin next to your garbage can for newspaper and any other scrap paper. So why should we recycle paper? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper makes up about one-third of the all the municipal waste stream in the U.S. That’s a whole lot of paper, and since we know that recycling all that paper conserves resources, saves energy, and doesn’t clog up the landfills, there’s no reason not to do it.

Once you have those in place, let’s move on to the rest of our list.

#4: Corrugated Cardboard. Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) represents a significant percentage of the commercial solid waste stream. In 1996, the U.S. generated 29 million tons of OCC, or 13.8% of our municipal waste stream. Approximately 90% of that comes from the commercial or non-residential sector, the places where we work. So next time UPS delivers a big box to your office, be sure to break it down and recycle it. (After you’ve emptied it, of course.)

#5: Steel cans. Just like aluminum, steel products can be recycled over again without compromising the quality of the steel. We’re talking about steel cans, but maybe you have some steel auto parts or appliances ready for recycling too? More than 80 million tons of steel are recycled each year in North America, and recycling steel saves the equivalent energy to power 18 million households a year. You can learn more about steel recycling by visiting the Steel Recycling Institute website.

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Photo Credit: andyarthur

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1:11PM PDT on Aug 1, 2014

There is money to be made in recycling, so not only is it good for the environment, you can also pocket some hefty change

2:15PM PDT on Jul 19, 2014

Interesting!Thanks for the article!

9:17AM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

@d.b.: Burning plastic containers is THE WORST idea ever! "A little smoke is better"...? You can't be serious!

9:15AM PDT on Apr 6, 2014

I absolutely love recycling and I try to reduce my waste as much as possible (I use the organic waste as compost). I was not, however, aware of the differences in HDPE plastic bottles and I wonder why they should get recycled separately. The recycling containers I use luckily accept all sorts of plastic.

6:14PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014


7:53AM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

Thank you.

1:54PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Also, to those who ditch their bottles and containers after their drink or meal. It was all important when it was serving you, now take care of it, the world doesn't want to share your garbage. It always reminds me of the height of selfishness, throwing away that which no longer has a purpose to you. Your mother is not following you around, clean it up!

1:50PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

I'm old, I don't recycle for me, I do it for the future and my descendants. Please join me if you don't recycle already, if you do-way to go!! :)

1:45AM PST on Feb 6, 2014


10:08AM PST on Feb 4, 2014

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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