Garbage: What’s the Big Deal?

  • The United States produces the most trash per person in the world.
  • Every month Americans throw away enough glass to fill an entire skyscraper.
  • Americans throw away over 2 million plastic bottles every hour.

Scientists Find “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”

The Story of PET

Plastic Recycling

  • The majority of plastic bottles we use are made from PET plastic, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate.
  • It takes over 1 million years for a plastic bottle or jar to decompose.
  • In 2009, only 28% of PET bottles and jars were recycled in the United States.
  • Plastic thrown into the Pacific Ocean has formed a “garbage patch” twice the size of Texas.
  • The energy saved from recycling a single plastic bottle provides enough energy to power a 60-watt lightbulb for 3 hours.

Aluminum Recycling

  • 250,000 aluminum cans are made in the United States every minute.
  • Aluminum comes from bauxite and is the most common metal on the Earth’s surface.
  • Aluminum cans are the most widely used beverage container and are 100% recyclable.
  • In 2010, Americans recycled 58 billion aluminum cans.
  • Recycling aluminum takes about 95% less energy than making new aluminum.
  • If you recycle one aluminum can per day for your whole life, the energy saved could power a home for 3-4 years.

How It’s Made: Aluminum Cans (Sam’s Club Choice)

Fire and Sand- How Glass Bottles and Jars Are Made

Glass Recycling

  • Glass is made from four major ingredients: silica sand, limestone, soda ash and recycled glass.
  • Recycling rates for glass in the United States are very low because the material is so heavy and the raw materials used to make new glass are cheap.
  • About 80% of recycled glass is used to make new beverage containers.
  • Glass can be recycled even when it is broken.
  • You could run a 100-watt lightbulb for 4 hours using the energy saved from recycling a single glass bottle.