The pressure on businesses to recycle and become more environmentally conscious is always rising – but for many companies, the incentives are often seen to be few and far between. Aside from the positive image of doing their bit for the environment, it can be understandable why businesses fail to see how recycling can actually help them grow.
However, these five little-known facts show just how big an impact that recycling can have on both the environment and a business’s finances – and these are just a drop in the ocean.
1. The US Uses 85bn KG of Paper Each Year
Taking a scan around your office will yield an unsurprising view of mountains of paper – depending on the size of your organization its weight could easily edge into the tons. In the United States, each person uses an average of 340kg of paper each year which, for the country as a whole, equates to over 85bn kg – an absolutely enormous figure.
Recycling paper has hugely positive environmental effects which, in turn, lead to cheaper production of paper products and lower costs for businesses. For example, manufacturing recycled paper produces almost 75% less air pollution than paper made from raw material, and the energy used could be up to 50% less.
2. Recycling 1 Ton Of Papers Could Power A Home For 6 Months
This is more to do with the resources that are saved by recycling paper instead of the lengthy process of producing more ‘from scratch’. As well as saving an average of 17 trees, the recycling of one ton of paper also saves around 3yd3 of landfill space, 7,000 gallons of water, two barrels of oil (84 gallons) and around 4,100kWh of electricity. All of these resources, though primarily the saved electricity, could go into completely powering the average home for around six months.
3. 85% Of Computers End Up As Toxic Landfill Waste
Not only is this potentially damaging to the environment (over time toxic gases can be released, and any shipped to third world countries to be stripped of parts have public health effects as well), but the potential cost saving effects are enormous. Computers and other electronic equipment is known as ‘e-waste’ but, despite the EPA saying it’s the ‘fastest growing municipal waste stream’, only 12.5% of it is actually recycled.
If one million laptops were recycled, then the energy saved is the equivalent to powering well over 3,500 homes, whereas the manufacture of one computer and monitor consumes (amongst other things) 539 pounds of fossil fuel. In everything from computers to cell phones there are valuable materials that can be salvaged, including copper, silver, gold and palladium.
4. The Recycling Turnaround For Aluminium Cans Is Just 6 Weeks
Aluminum is a recyclable material which, at present, is still being wasted – both in terms of a reusable product and from a financial point of view, not least because purchasing re-manufactured goods can represent cost savings. The process of sorting in a recycling facility to the actual production of a ‘new’ aluminum product can be as quick as just six weeks – with only eight weeks being the average.
In financial terms, the value of what’s being wasted and thrown away is well into the millions – in the UK alone over £36m worth of aluminum ends up in waste landfills each year. The saving potentials are enormous, and it can help to provide a boost in the recycling industry to improve both domestic and commercial environmental actions.
5. Recycling Can Be Up To 40% Cheaper Than Typical Waste Disposal
This is primarily relevant to the US and the UK, but can apply to businesses anywhere in the world – chances are, by opting to recycle as much as possible and reduce the amount of waste which is disposed of to traditional landfills, businesses have the potential to save significant sums. Estimates from Lessismore.org put it at up to 40% cheaper which lead to vital savings for small start-up businesses and, scaled up to much larger companies, can represent significant cost-cutting.
In the UK, waste collection companies are obliged to pay a tax if they do not recycle, and it’s a charge that has been rising significantly over the last five years. In essence, what this means for businesses is that not recycling will lead to significantly higher outgoings for waste collection, as companies who do recycle are not subject to this rather high tax.
This guest post was written by Tom McShane – professional blogger, eco enthusiast and writer for UK-based Easikit, who specialise in manufacturing sorting conveyor belts for the recycling industry.