Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Recycling costs more time, money, and energy than throwing away and remaking."

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day and she said that recycling costs more time, money, and energy than just throwing something away and remaking it.

That's a fantastic hypothesis.

But to stop there without testing it is anti-scientific.

Turns out:
experts have begun to conduct detailed life-cycle analyses on recycled goods, calculating the energy consumed from the moment they’re picked up by recycling trucks until they are processed into brand-new products. When compared with the amount of energy required to send the same goods to landfills or incinerators and make new products from scratch, the results vary dramatically, depending on the material.

Aluminum, for example, requires 96 percent less energy to make from recycled cans than it does to process from bauxite. At the other end of the spectrum, recycled glass uses only about 21 percent less energy—but it still comes out ahead, according to a study by Washington-based environmental consultant Jeffrey Morris. Recycled plastic bottles use 76 percent less energy and newsprint about 45 percent less, he found. Across the board, the key factor is the energy intensity of extracting virgin materials, which is an order of magnitude higher than that of recovering the same material through recycling. “Even if you doubled the emissions from collecting recyclables, it wouldn’t come close,” Morris says. Overall, he found, it takes 10.4 million Btu to manufacture products from a ton of recyclables, compared to 23.3 million Btu for virgin materials. And all of the collecting, hauling and processing of those recyclables adds just 0.9 million Btu.

- Popular Mechanics
Let's approach this stuff as scientifically, wisely, and common sensibly as possible.


  1. great video. really debunks all the folk-science behind recycling.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.