Many people think of recycling when it comes to being sustainable—and it is an easy, first step. Goods are turned back into products so new resources don’t have to be used while simultaneously preventing sending that same material to the landfill. Reducing and reusing are better than recycling, but there are times when that’s not possible, so recycling is then the way to go.
Did you know the EPA estimates 75% of what Americans throw away is recyclable? Unfortunately the national average of materials diverted from the landfill is only 34% and Omaha is a shockingly low 11%. The Med Center has improved to 27% but we still have some work to do to get to the 90% (zero waste goal.
Have you ever wondered what impact your recycling has? It seems like such a simple action and a small item, can it really have a big impact? Yes! Your aluminum can is one of the 6,700 cans used every second and 200 billion used every year. It takes more energy to mine and produce aluminum than any other metal, yet we landfill enough to provide the auto industry with all the material it needs to build a year’s worth of new cars, which is valued at $1 Billion. However, recycling uses only 5% of the energy needed to create the same can from mined aluminum and they can be back on the shelf in 6 weeks.
Plastic is no better. Americans throw away 25 million bottles every hour. New production uses crude oil and other chemicals leading to pollution which has a negative impact on health including reproductive issues, obesity, cancer, lung diseases and endocrine issues. Researchers are now seeing long term effects in children when they are exposed to pollution. In short, recycling helps reduces harmful pollutants which are bad for our health. To meet our mission of leading the world in creating a healthy future for all, we must reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Changes in the international recycling market means that it is more important than ever to Recycle Right. Please make sure all materials are placed into the correct bin and liquids/food have been removed. If you have questions on what can be recycled, see our website or watch this short video
Other items can be recycled at the Med Center; including aerosol cans, furniture, electronics and toner cartridges. For more information see the LiveGreen Recycling page.