Paper makes up nearly 30 percent of all wastes Americans throw away each year, more than any other material. Americans recycled about 63 percent of the paper they used in 2010. This recovered paper is used to make new paper products, saving trees and other natural resources. Most community or office recycling programs accept paper and paper products. Check what your community or office program accepts before you put it in the bin. When you go shopping, look for products made from recycled paper. Learn more about paper recycling.
Some batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel; therefore, many communities do not allow them to be thrown away with your regular trash. Recycling is always the best option for disposing of used batteries.
Americans generated 31 million tons of plastics in 2010, about 12 percent of the waste stream. Only eight percent of plastics were recycled in 2010. Some types of plastics are recycled much more than others. Most community recycling programs accept some, but not all, types of plastics. Look for products made from recycled plastic materials.
Glass, especially glass food and beverage containers, can be recycled over and over again. Americans generated 11.5 million tons of glass in 2010, about 27 percent of which was recovered for recycling. Making new glass from recycled glass is typically cheaper than using raw materials. Most curbside community recycling programs accept different glass colors and types mixed together, and then glass is sorted at the recovery facility. Check with your local program to see if you need to separate your glass or if it can be mixed together.
Never dump your used motor oil down the drain — the used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. By recycling your used oil you not only help keep our water supply clean, but help reduce American dependence on foreign oil. It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil, to produce 2.5 quarts of new motor oil. Many garages and auto-supply stores that sell motor oil also accept oil for recycling. Learn more about recycling used oil. Find a motor oil recycler near you: Earth911 .
Household Hazardous Waste
Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW). Products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them. HHW may be dangerous to people or bad for the environment if poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown out with regular trash.
What you can do:
Disease-carrying pests such as rodents may live in tire piles. Tire piles can also catch on fire. Most garages are required to accept and recycle your used tires when you have new ones installed. You may be able to return used tires to either a tire retailer or a local recycling facility that accepts tires.
In the early 1990s the Georgia Department of Natural Resources created a Scrap Tire Program in an effort to clean up and recycle the nearly 12 million tires housed in illegal stockpiles throughout the state. Funding for cleanup is derived from a $1 scrap tire management fee charged on the retail sale of new tires. Today, the majority of scrap tires generated are shipped to recycling facilities where they are shredded into two-inch by two-inch chips which are primarily used for energy-related and civil engineering applications.
Millions of scrap tires that have been recycled across the state were the result of Georgia's stockpile abatement program. To clean up the small piles of scrap tires, the scrap tire program incorporated a program that offers government grants to rural towns and counties after enforcement is done on piles found on private property. Also, with funding assistance from the state, towns or counties can hold scrap tire collection/roadside cleanup events to bring their scrap tires to designated collection sites for removal and recycling. To date, scrap tire program grants have been responsible for the cleanup of over 3.3 million scrap tires.
According to a report entitled Georgia's Scrap Tire Management Program: An Assessment of Economic and Environmental Viability, aapproximately 62 percent of Georgia's scrap tire chips are sold as tire derived fuel to paper mills, about 25 percent are sold to building contractors for use in sewage system drainage fields, and about 13 percent are sold as feedstock to out-of-state producers of crumb rubber.