Why Recycle Computers
According to the National Recycling
Institute, 500 million computers became
obsolete in 2007. As of 2007,
Massachusetts prohibits disposing
computers into the trash; it must now be
responsibly recycled, often requiring a
fee from either the town or a recycling
center. In his book Natural Capitalism,
Paul Hawken writes when you discard a
five-pound laptop you are also throwing
away the 20,000 pounds of raw materials it
took to make it. Besides benefiting from
not having to pay for recycling a
computer, donors who donate computer
equipment can receive tax deduction
Used computers in a downsizing or uncertain
economy can offer low cost alternatives to low
income families or nonprofit organizations,
such as schools, and bridging the digital
Why Recycle and Use Recycled Content?
American consumers purchase over 500 million
beverage bottles and cans, on average, every
day. Only about one in three are recycled
while two out of three beverage containers
sold are landfilled, incinerated or littered.
Each year we are producing more beverages and
recycling a smaller portion of the containers.
According to the Container Recycling Institute
(CRI), beverage sales have increased over
five-fold in the last 30 years while U.S.
container recycling rates have declined from
53.5% in 1992 to 33.5% in 2004.
In 2003,1 containers and packaging, at 32%,
comprised the largest segment of U.S.
municipal solid waste2, and beverage
containers made up approximately 15% of all
packaging and nearly 5% by weight of total
waste (estimated from EPA data, 2005).
Beverage bottles and cans are not only a large
portion of packaging, but are also some of the
most easily recycled and most economically
valuable materials in our waste stream.
Replacing these cans and bottles with new
containers made from virgin materials consumes
substantive amounts of energy, water and other
natural resources, creates greenhouse gas
emissions fueling global warming and other
pollutants and increases dependence on foreign
In a study of energy and emissions profile of
the materials in the 1997 U.S. municipal
waste, Valiente (2000) estimated that aluminum
cans contributed 14% of emissions embodied in
a ton of divertible waste that was landfilled,
even though they comprised only 1.4% of the
entire waste stream by weight. Using recovered
materials in container manufacture, especially
post consumer materials, saves energy, water,
and natural resources, and reduces waste and
global warming pollution.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy Savings
Using calculations based on the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's)
WASTE Reduction Model (WARM), an estimated 3
million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE)
of greenhouse gas emissions are being avoided
annually at the current (2004) rate of overall
beverage container recycling (about 33.5%).
If the current level of beverage container
sales were to remain constant (nearly 200
billion units sold per year) but the overall
recycling rate were to reach 80%, then
approximately an additional 3 million tons of
greenhouse gas emissions (double current
avoided emissions) would be avoided. These
additional avoided emissions are equivalent to
taking nearly 2.4 million cars off the road
for one year.
Published with permission from The Container