27 April 2011

Recycling in Wisconsin

Kathleen Dunn hosted Jennifer Semrau, President, Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW) and a Recycling Specialist for Winnebago County and Meleesa Johnson, Chair of the Wisconsin Counties Solid Waste Management Association (WCSWMA), Treasurer, Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin (AROW) and a current member of the Solid Waste Association of North America-Badger Chapter. Solid Waste Director for Marathon County.

According to the guests there are 35 landfills in the State that cover between 25 and 80 acres and can be up to 20 stories tall.  Since starting our recycling program in the 90's, we have saved filling of about 20 landfills.

The effect of ending recycling, according to Meleesa Johnson, " ... a couple of things would happen … we'll see an increase in “ditch dumping”, could be an increase in burning of waste, and the other thing is an increase in tonnage that is going to landfills."

Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.

Some information from the website http://recyclemorewisconsin.org/ :

Recycling saves valuable resources such as trees, minerals, fossil fuels, and even water. Recycling also conserves landfill space, allowing more room for our beautiful Wisconsin farms, parks, natural habitat areas, and cities.

Current recycling efforts keep about 1.69 million tons of materials out of Wisconsin landfills and incinerators annually. At this rate, Wisconsin citizens save space equivalent to the size of an average municipal waste landfill every 1.5 – 2 years. Every ton of paper recycled saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space.1 We can still do a lot more! In 2005, it is estimated that Wisconsin landfilled more than $100M worth of potentially recyclable materials.1

Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees. Even though trees are a renewable resource and can grow back again, recycling reduces the need for monoculture tree farms, and saves energy and water.

The production of one ton of aluminum ingot requires 4-5 tons of bauxite ore, which is only found in a few places in the world. However, when aluminum cans are recycled, they become a new aluminum can in as little as 60 days without using up rare bauxite reserves or causing the negative environmental impacts of mining. An aluminum can has no limit to the amount of times it can be recycled, so keep returning them to your recycling container!

The majority of our energy comes from fossil fuels: oil, natural gas, and coal. Fossil fuels formed over millions of years from the fossils or remains of dead animals and plants. Because it takes millions of years to “create” more fossil fuels, we call them nonrenewable resources. Once we use up all of the current fossil fuels, they are gone to us forever! 2

Facts and Figures

• Recycling 1 ton of glass saves the equivalent of 10 gallons of oil.3
• Recycling 1 ton of plastic saves the equivalent of 1-2,000 gallons of gasoline.3
• Recycling 1 ton of newspaper saves the equivalent of 100 gallons of gasoline. 3
• Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves the equivalent of 2,350 gallons of gasoline. 3
• Recycling 1 ton of paper saves the equivalent of 380 gallons of oil. 3  

1 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
2 U.S. Department of Energy
3 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources PUBL CE-163 2003 Rev

For a ton of information, visit:  http://recyclemorewisconsin.org/

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