Recycling Myths Debunked

Recycling Myths Debunked

recyclingFact: One could go down to their local landfill and find everything they need to furnish a new house, if they wanted to. Old computers, ragged couches, lamps, and even ovens are thrown into landfills across the country each year. While properly separated recyclables go to recycling centers, items that are not recycled end up in overcrowded landfills. So why aren’t more people recycling? Could it be they think it is not worth it, too expensive, or too much work? The following are five common recycling myths debunked.

Myth 1: Recycling wastes more energy than it saves

Fact: It actually saves more energy than if an item was not recycled. According to the National Recycling Coalition, reprocessing materials into usable materials, on average, requires 17 times less energy than creating usable materials from raw materials.

  • According to the University of Massachusetts’s Office of Waste Management, recycled paper takes 60% less energy, 58% less water, 74% less air pollution, and 35% less water pollution to produce than non-recycled paper
  • One ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and 7000 gallons of water
  • One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours.
  • Every one pound of aluminum recycled saves 4 pounds of bauxite
  • One recycled glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours
  • If every plastic bottle was recycled, 2 billion tons of plastic would be saved from entering a landfill
  • One recycled pound of steel saves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for a whole day.

Myth 2: Recycling trucks waste energy

Some say that it is useless because the trucks that collect the waste produce more energy and emit more pollution than the process can save.

Fact: Trash has to be collected one way or another. If trash is going to be collected, it is better for the environment if that waste is separated into recyclable and non-recyclable. The amount of energy and pollution created from waste trucks is insignificant when compared to the benefits of this repurposing process. Creating usable items from raw materials requires an enormous amount of energy compared to using recycled materials.


Myth 3: Someone separates your trash for you

Fact: Everything thrown away in a trash can becomes part of the neighborhood landfill if not separated into proper recycle bins.  Can you imagine the labor and funds it would take for hired workers to separate every piece of trash into recyclables and non-recyclables?  It is much easier and convenient for each person to separate his or her own trash than for hired labor to separate a whole town’s trash.


Myth 4: Landfill space is plentiful and infinite

Fact: There are those out there who say we will not run out of landfill space; however, there is a finite amount of land in this world. The trash we create has to go somewhere. All the trash that is not reused or repurposed continues piling up in landfills. Some landfills even become a part of the community over time. For example, in Virginia Beach, VA, there is a popular park created from an abandoned landfill called Mt.Trashmore Park. Some of us are living atop heaping mounds of trash, but wouldn’t it be better to live atop a natural part of the Earth?

Landfills not only occupy space they also emit greenhouse gases. According to Portland State University, as “organic matter breaks down in a landfill”, it releases methane which is a very strong greenhouse gas. By recycling, such organic matter no longer ends up in landfills, reducing greenhouse gases.

Myth 5: Recycling is too expensive


Fact: If a truck comes and collects your recycling bins for you, then it costs money, usually a monthly fee that varies by city. However, it can be free if you go and drop your trash at a local waste management center or by dropping your items off at a school, library, or any public recycling center. There are also companies that will recycle electronics, print cartridges, and other items for free.


Top tips:

  • Before you believe the myths that are out there, take the time and research the truths with the help of your local recycling center or the Internet. Not only will you be more knowledgeable, you will be able to recycle with ease.



to your wallet

Diverting trash out of your curbside recycling bin and following your waste center’s policies will keep you from receiving a fine. You can earn a little money selling your used materials as well.

to the Earth

Remaining alert and dedicated will significantly reduce landfill waste, the production of new resources, and fuel.

Common Mistake

  • Many households simply place their items into the bin without thinking twice; however, all items must follow various policies. It is vital that you discuss your center’s or drop-off location’s guidelines with a representative. Your local waste center can be found using SCGH’s database.


For more information…

Sierra Club Green Home Recycling Center

Careful Where You Toss That!

Recycling and Waste Reduction: Environmental Protection Agency


  1. Canada Guy December 5, 2009
  2. Trzplz December 7, 2009
  3. Hannah December 7, 2009
  4. Nicolas December 7, 2009
  5. Tiffany D. December 8, 2009
  6. ilovn8r December 8, 2009
  7. Georgina December 11, 2009
  8. Kate June 3, 2010

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