Frequent Questions

Is recycling worthwhile?

Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century. Recycling, which includes composting, diverted over 89 million tons of material away from disposal in 2014, up from 15 million tons in 1980. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. As a matter of fact, collecting recyclable materials is just the first step in a series of actions that generate a host of financial, environmental, and societal returns. There are several key benefits to recycling.
- Protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace. 
- Reduces the need for landfilling and incineration. 
- Saves energy and prevents pollution caused by the extraction and processing of virgin materials and the manufacture of products using virgin materials. 
- Decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change. 
- Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. 
- Helps sustain the environment for future generations. 

Learn more about the benefits of recycling

Recycling not only makes sense from an environmental standpoint, but also makes good financial sense. For example, creating aluminum cans from recycled aluminum is far less energy-intensive, and less costly, than mining the raw materials and manufacturing new cans from scratch. Because recycling is clearly good for human health, the nation's economy, and the environment, many people wonder why the federal government does not simply mandate recycling. The primary reason is that recycling is a local issue—the success and viability of recycling depends on a community's resources and structure. A community must consider the costs of a recycling program, as well as the availability of markets for its recovered materials. In some areas, not enough resources exist to make recycling an economically feasible option. State governments can assess local conditions and set appropriate recycling mandates. For information about recycling in your state, contact your EPA regional office, or your state agency.

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