Recycling Works: Put it in the Bin
You may have seen news stories in recent weeks about “disruption” or even “crisis” in the recycling world, driven by regulatory changes in China—a major buyer of America’s recycled materials.
But the important thing for you as a consumer to know is that the paper and cardboard box industries, and all the other industries dedicated to recycling, are already adapting. Companies are shifting existing recycling streams to new markets. Investments will be made in new recycling mills in the U.S., creating the kind of recycled pulp the world is increasingly demanding. And municipalities will move to upgrade and modernize their recycling streams to produce cleaner, more valuable output.
And as for you, the consumer, the bottom line is this: Recycling isn’t going anywhere. It’s as important now as it ever was, if not more so.
Thankfully, paper and packaging’s recycling story is a great one. Because of our industry’s ongoing commitment to responsible and sustainable resource management—and ordinary Americans’ commitment to recycling—an astounding 89 percent of corrugated boxes were recovered and recycled last year, going on to live another life as another product. Perhaps even more astonishing, more than two thirds of all paper products were recovered. The pulp in paper can be recycled up to seven times, and when mixed with fresh fiber, it’s a critical ingredient in one of the most reusable and renewable resources on the planet.
In fact, look around you for the nearest cardboard box. Statistically, that box is 48 percent recycled fiber. When you recycle, you help make that possible.
So keep it up! And follow a few simple guidelines: While many municipal and regional recycling facilities are happy to take materials that are worse for wear, in general, drier and cleaner material is easier to reprocess than wet or soiled material. So keep it clean, keep it dry, and put it in the bin.