Many of us use water bottles and other plastics like straws and plastic silverware, but either don’t know the importance of recycling or don’t bother to make an effort towards saving the planet. One of the benefits of recycling is that it saves energy, “In what ways does recycling save energy?” 

A lot of people are not aware that recycling has more added benefits than they lead themselves on to believe. There are many different ways to recycle the necessary, and specific, items that you have in your possession in order to save, and preserve, energy. Keep reading to learn about the different ways that recycling saves energy and why people recycle. 

9 Ways Recycling Saves Energy

When you recycle, you are creating a more livable environment for you and future generations. The benefits of recycling also improve economically as recycling reusable items saves energy as opposed to having to purchase new materials to make products. Keep reading to learn about the nine ways that recycling saves energy. 

Recycling Paper 

Recycling paper prevents trees from being cut down. A ton of recycled paper can save 4000 kilowatt hours of energy, which is over 60% of energy being saved from recycling paper. Recycling paper also saves over a dozen trees from being cut down in the process and this prevents us from being exposed to carbon dioxide.  

Recycling Plastic 

Recycling one ton worth of plastic can save up to 5,774 kilowatts of energy. Recycling plastics also cuts down on the need to purchase new materials that are used to make plastic products, with a main material being petroleum. Recycling cuts down the need for newly purchased petroleum by 40%. 

Recycling Glass

Although not as much as others, recycling glass does save energy. Recycling glass saves 42 kilowatts of energy. Another benefit to glass recycling is that there would be less glass in the landfills and the air population would be reduced by 20% while the water pollution would be reduced by 50%. 

Recycling Aluminum 

Recycling aluminum saves energy by 95% and one ton of aluminum being recycled saves 14,000 kilowatt hours. Another added benefit to recycling aluminum is that it is impactful economically, creating over 100,000 aluminum-related industry jobs, and has remained as a consistently successful product since the 1900s

Recycling Steel

Recycling steel saves up to 74% of energy and can save what is equivalent to the “electrical power for about one-fifth of American households for one year” or 642 kilowatt hours. Another benefit to recycling steel is that not only does it reduce water pollution by 76%, but no matter how many times you recycle steel, it will never lose its strength

Recycling Clothes

Recycling clothes reduces energy from being used to have to make clothes from new materials. Another benefit to recycling clothes is that it cuts down the greenhouse gases from escaping into our atmosphere, as this could incite climate change. Recycling clothes can also be beneficial to people that live in other developing countries

Recycling Cardboard

Recycling cardboard saves a reasonable amount of energy, giving virgin materials the needed energy to produce their own materials. Another benefit to recycling cardboard is that it can be repurposed to make other materials like paper towels, tissues, etc. 

Aside from saving energy, and being a helpful factor in reducing global warming, recycling cardboard conserves about 7000 gallons of water.  

Recycling Batteries

Recycling batteries saves on energy and gives the energy to be spent on virgin materials. Another benefit to recycling batteries, depending on both the quality and quantity, you can make money by selling your recyclable batteries and even turn it into a business

Recycling batteries keeps dangerous materials from the landfills. Some batteries contain dangerous materials such as lead-acid, cadmium, and lithium-ion. Keeping these materials out of the landfills is a way to protect the environment. 

Recycling Light Bulbs 

Recycling light bulbs prevents mercury from being released into the environment. Lightbulbs are likely to break when being thrown into the trash and when they end up in landfills. Mercury that could be released in our atmosphere can very much affect our health. Another benefit to recycling light bulbs is that the materials that are within the lightbulbs can be recovered and reused. 

Why Do People Recycle? 

In 1960, the percentage of people who recycled was only a mere 7%, but then increased to 32%. The act of reusing or recycling the reusable items benefited in creating over 600,000 jobs. The increasing number of jobs equals over $30 billion in wages within the recycling and manufacturing industry. But there are, however, other benefits to recycling. 

Keep reading to find out five benefits to recycling. 

Less Waste

The more you recycle, the less you are wasting. If you decide to not recycle, then what could’ve been reusable would end up in the landfills and could sit there for years, taking up space. Plastic and other reusable materials are hard to biodegrade if it’s spending years in a landfill that is not in good condition to begin with. 

Recycling prevents reusable items, such as plastic bottles, from going into the landfills and also prevents them from being in the streets and, more importantly, the ocean. Plastic bottles that are living in the oceans creates a very toxic environment for the creatures that live there, cutting their lifespans down. Recycling prevents events like this from happening. 

Protects Wildlife

A benefit to recycling is that you are preserving natural resources. Waste that isn’t being disposed of properly has a major effect on the waste of wildlife. The wildlife is at a higher risk of being affected by litter because it is considered more hazardous for them. Recycling also prevents a possible expansion on landfills, mining, and other drilling operations. 

Reduction In The Size of Landfills

More recycling promotes the reduction in the size of landfills, meaning less pollution in the air. When the trash is having to go into the landfills, they can only hold so much. This causes an expansion and that means more pollution in the air, which can lead to poisoning and more health problems garnered towards us and recycling lessens that. 

Creates More Jobs

With increased recycling, it is estimated that by 2030 there will be over one million new jobs created. There are about twenty-six different recycling businesses that can create jobs such as manufacturing jobs that create recycling equipment, companies that sort discarded materials to sort and recycle, reusable stores that accept donations that can be either reusable or resold. 

There are companies that use recycled items and use them to make a “new” product without having to spend more money on new materials. 

Saves Energy

By recycling, you are cutting down the need for materials to be made with new products. Recycling is a way to reuse used materials to make the products that we are using today. Cutting down on purchasing new products, brings down the expenses and gives manufacturers the opportunity to make products with less energy

What Can You Recycle? 

It is important to know that everything cannot be recycled. There are items that one would think to be reusable, which in hindsight can be the case, but are not recyclable. 

Items that are recyclable, and that you should throw away in the trash bin or properly disposed in another fashion includes: 

  • Hazardous items: fertilizer, paint, the containers that contained such items as these, any type of chemicals. All of these items should not be thrown into the trash bin, but properly disposed of in a hazardous waste facility that collects these items. 
  • Drinking glasses and windowpane glasses: Glass is recyclable, but drinking and windowpane glass is not. These are items that would be disposed of in the trash. 
  • Tissues: Tissues are typically, always, thrown away in the trash considering that they are normally used on one’s nose or to clean one’s hands after sneezing or washing their hands. 
  • Shell containers: The containers that you would normally get from the grocery store containing food items such as fruit in it would go into the trash. This is in part because there is already food residue in the containers, and this is deemed automatically contaminated and of no value. 

And some items that are considered recyclable include magazines and newspapers, plastic bottles, food, aluminum cans, juice and milk cartons, etc. 

Different Types of Recycling 

There are many different ways to recycle as there is not one set way. Keep reading to learn more about four different types of recycling. 

Cardboard Recycling 

When you are recycling the cardboard, you do not need to worry about having to remove items off of it such as tape and the labels that come with it. These things will get filtered out during the recycling process. When recycling your cardboard, make sure that it is dry and not wet nor contains any type of oily substance on it. 

Wood Recycling 

Recycled, reusable, wood can be used as building material, and this reduces the need to cut down trees. There are several steps when it comes to recycling the wood, and different grades of woods that determines how the wood gets recycled. 

The four different recyclable wood grades are: 

  • Grade A: Considered a “clean” recycled wood that comes from secondary manufacturers and pallets. This can be reused to make products such as mulches and animal bedding. 
  • Grade B: This goes along with Grade A, plus wood materials that were used in construction and demolition waste. Grade B can be reused to make products such as panelboards. 
  • Grade C: This is considered to be a fuel grade that is from civic amenity sites and municipal collections, but also includes wood materials from both Grades A and B. Grade C can be reused to make biomass fuel. 
  • Grade D: This is considered to be a hazardous waste and includes Grades A-C. Grade D wood materials are disposed of in special facilities. 

Now that you know the different recyclable wood grades, let’s take a look at the steps to recycling wood.

How Wood Is Recycled

There are different steps to recycle reusable wood. 

These five steps are mostly used when completing the wood recycling process and these steps are: 

  • Step One: The woods are weighed and there is a quality control. 
  • Step Two: The woods are being sorted by wood grades. 
  • Step Three: The woods are being primarily shredded. 
  • Step Four: The recyclable materials are being separated. 
  • Step Five: There is a secondary shredding/granulating. 

Now, let’s move on to the next way that recycling saves energy.

Metal Recycling

Metal recycling is most common among aluminum and steel. Reusable metal can be used for vehicles such as cars and trucks. The process that the recycled metal goes through is that once they are collected and sorted, they are then shredded before being melted into a large furnace.

 After being melted the metal is then purified to make sure that it is high quality before it is, lastly, solidified. 

Clothing Recycling 

When you are cleaning out your closet and decide that you want to get rid of your clothes, donate your clothes that are considered to be “good condition” and recycle the “poor condition” clothes. 

Poor conditioned clothing is considered to be any clothes that are torn, stained, etc. that no one else would want to wear. To recycle your clothes, find locations in your area that have drop-off locations. 

Once the clothes are recycled, textile recyclers sort the clothes into separate piles, by colors and the type of material. After being sorted, the clothes are shredded and they become either fiberfill or stuffing, sold as rags, or sold by their weight. 

Plastic Recycling 

Plastic recycling is the most common, and efficient, form of recycling. Most plastics are recyclable (plastic numbers 1,2,4, and 5), with the exception of plastic numbers 3, 6, and 7 because they are known to have toxins and chemicals within them. 

The plastic is collected and sorted before they are washed to remove the possible contamination of the bottles. After washing, they are resized into small particles and are tested to determine their quality and class. 

The final step is to compound the particles. Compounding the particles is when they are melted together into plastic pellets which can be made into other plastic products. 


You have now learned about the nine different ways that recycling saves energy. You have also learned why people recycle along with the different types of recycling. 


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