Recycling: Just the facts, ma’am

Was one of your New Year’s resolutions to do more recycling? We hope so! If you need a little motivation, here are some facts about waste in America.

Recycling cans

Metal Cans

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum in three months to rebuild all of our commercial airplanes.
  • The energy saved by recycling one aluminum can could run a television for three hours.
  • The energy saved by recycling 19 billion steel cans each year is the same as Los Angeles’ energy requirements for eight years.
  • Currently, the only source for new tin in the U.S. is from recycling used tin cans.
  • Recycled tin is so pure that it is used to make stannous fluoride, the “cavity fighter” in toothpaste.


  • Every year, Americans throw away enough office and writing paper to build a wall more than 12 feet high, stretching from Los Angeles to New York City.
  • Americans use more than 52 million tons of paper each year.
  • Recycling one ton of paper saves one acre of trees.
  • Approximately 76 percent of all U.S. papermakers use some recovered paper to make everything from paper-based packaging to tissue products, from office paper to newspaper.
  • By weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from municipal solid waste streams than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined.

Glass Bottles and Jars

  • If all the glass bottles and jars collected through recycling in the U.S. in one year were laid end-to-end, they would reach the Moon and half way back to the Earth.
  • The volume of glass recycled by Americans in one year would fill New Jersey’s Giants Stadium more than three times.
  • Glass can be recycled an infinite number of times.
  • The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.



  • In one year an estimated seven million tons of clothing and other textiles are thrown away. Only 12 percent are reused or recycled.
  • Textile recycling provides raw materials for upholstery, for filling mattresses, for wadding and other absorbent products, and for the manufacture of felt as well as fibre from which new cloth can be made.


Sources: Aluminum Recycling, American Forest and Paper Association Recycling, Environmental News Network (, EPA,, Bureau of International Recycling.