What I Learned Touring Utica Recycling Center
Because I'm filming a series of videos about recycling for the Oneida-Herkimer Recycling Center, I got to visit the center for a tour. First of all, it's not at all what I expected. Have you ever seen the movie Idiocracy? It was a "comedy" (Read: kindof a documentary) about what happens when we don't take care of ourselves, each other and the planet. There's more to it, but that's the gist. Anyway, walking up to the facility, I kindof thought the inside would look like the 500 year trash pile scene in Idiocracy.
Gratefully, it didn't. Despite the fact that there was literally trash everywhere, the facility was...clean. And efficient. Watching the process of how our collective trash, gets to be sorted into neat, cohesive blocks of plastics, metals, cardboard and the like-- was fascinating. But also sobering. There was so so so so much trash to be sorted. And lines of cars and trucks coming in and out of the facility to drop off trash too. I got to thinking, did we always have so much trash? And I found this:
So. No. We didn't always have so much trash. But now that we have it, we simply must collectively figure out what to do with it. Recycling is literally just a start. According to Tree Hugger:
Recycling by the Numbers
544,000: Trees saved if every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100 percent recycled ones.5
50 million: Tons of electrical and electronic waste thrown away each year.6 One ton of scrap from discarded computers contains more gold than can be produced from 17 tons of gold ore.7
9 cubic yards: Amount of landfill space saved by recycling one ton of cardboard.8
$160 billion: Value of the global recycling industry that employs over 1.5 million people.9
94 million tons: Amount of waste material diverted away from disposal in 2005 through recycling and composting.10
5 percent: Fraction of the energy it takes to recycle aluminum versus mining and refining new aluminum.11
89 percent: Overall return rate of refillable containers (cans, plastic bottles, and glass bottles) in Denmark in 2018.12
66.2 percent: Percentage of the paper consumed in the U.S. that was recovered for recycling in 2019.
I want to get better at recycling myself. What about you?
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