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Why Recycle?

Recycling is good for everyone. It helps our environment and it helps our economy.


Save Energy &Slow ClimateChange 

Manufacturing products from recycled materials requires less energy than using virgin materials. This reduces the impact we have on climate change and our dependence on foreign oil. In 2000, the recycling of solid waste prevented the release of 32.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE, the unit of measure for greenhouse gases) into the air.[1] We can make a difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions if we work together to recycle more often.

Facts and Figures:

  • The energy saved each year by steel recycling in the US is equal to the electrical power used annually by 18 million homes, or enough energy to last Los Angeles residents for 8 years. [2]

  • The energy needed to replace all the aluminum cans wasted each year is equivalent to 16 million barrels of oil, enough to keep a million American cars on the road for a year. [3]


  1.  National Recycling Coalition

  2.  Steel Recycling Institute

  3. Container Recycling Institute


Prevent Pollution

Recycling reduces air and water pollution that damages the environment and our health. Water pollutants can contaminate our drinking water, kill fish and other wildlife, accumulate in the tissue of fish we catch and eat, and reduce the beauty of water.

If paper mills use recycled paper in their products, they save 60% of the water that would be used if they started with virgin pulp.

Only 2.8% of the Earth’s water is available for human consumption, so we should take care of it!


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

Conserve Resources


It's the Law

Wisconsin passed a comprehensive recycling law that took effect in 1995. This law requires recycling by residents, businesses, government, non-profits, multi-family units, schools, parks, public venues and events.


For details visit the DNR website:

Create Jobs

Recyclable materials are in high demand and market prices are strong. These materials bring jobs and money to our local economy. In Wisconsin, the 1.6 million tons of material diverted from landfills annually supports 97,000 jobs and contributes to the $5.4 billion dollar environmental industry. Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry.

More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide. 1

There is currently a lot of lost opportunity, though. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources calculated the lost annual revenue from 750,000 tons of recyclables that are still being thrown away in Wisconsin by businesses and residents, as seen below.

• Newspapers and magazines: $13 million

• Office and mixed paper: $19 million

• Cardboard: $17 million

• Aluminum cans: $21 million

• Other aluminum: $15 million

• Ferrous (including steel cans): $ 9 million

• Plastic containers: $19 million


TOTAL= $113 Million Annually Lost Revenue

1 National Recycling Coalition


To see the impact of your recycling, try the National Recycling Coalition’s Conversionator and Recycling Calculator, found here.

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