STANFORD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES - EARTH SYSTEMS PROGRAM

Sustainable Choices

Recyclable & Re-usable Packaging

Simplicity:
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Carbon Impact:
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Money Savings:
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Health Helper:
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Overview
Did you know that many products can be purchased in packaging that can either be re-used or recycled into new products? As more and more packaging enters landfills across the world every day, it is time to become part of a “closed-loop” solution—or a system that recycles materials and resources back into the production process without creating waste. The creation of new materials requires the use of: 1) often-scarce natural resources; 2) energy, often derived from fossil fuel energy that contributes to global warming. The more we can re-use and recycle materials in every facet of our lives, the fewer new resources we will have to extract from the Earth, the less we will pollute the atmosphere, and the more of our planet’s space we will retain for useful activity or recreation.

Tips & Tricks
Look for the recycling symbol on the underside of your product’s packaging. Knowing what’s what is the first step to recycling.

Find out which products your local recycling company will accept. For instance, some companies accept almost all plastics, while others only accept the lower numbers. To find your recycling center, try the links below or  search for "recycle" in your city's, town's, or county's Web site.

Web & Print Resources
Recycling calculator:
www.nrc-recycle.org/recyclingcalculator.aspx

Information about recycling processes, energy savings and economics:
www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/recycle/benefits.pdf
http://earth911.org/recycling/

Find your local recycling collector:
http://earth911.org/
www.nrc-recycle.org/localresources.aspx

Books:
Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World, by Daniel Imhoff
Recycle!: A Handbook for Kids, by Gail Gibbons

Fun Facts

Some plastic bottles are made into fleece clothing or plastic lumber.

Aluminum cans are recycled into new cans, and glass bottles into new glass.

A ton of soda cans made with recycled aluminum saves an amazing 21,000 kilowatt hours by reducing the virgin bauxite (bozite) ore that would have to be mined, shipped, and refined. That’s a 95% energy savings. Source

Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for four hours. Source