‘America Recycles Day’ Celebrates Eco-friendly Economic Impacts of ‘Reduce, Reuse & Recycle’

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What’s created 757,000 jobs, accounted for $36.6 billion in wages, netted $6.7 billion in tax revenues—within a single year—and literally protects our planet at the same time?

Wait for it… Recycling!

To promote and celebrate the countless eco-friendly wonders and economic benefits of recycling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated November 15thAmerica Recycles Day,” with thousands of associated events and actions taking place online and by participating schools, businesses and municipalities across the nation.

Part of the “Keep America Beautiful” national initiative, America Recycles Day is commemorating its 20th anniversary, with more 1.5 million event participants, more than 15,000 organizers working together to share its important message, and more than 200,000 Americans taking and signing its #BeRecycled Pledge via its homepage at americarecyclesday.org.

In doing so, signatories promise to help make this world a better, greener, healthier place, by vowing to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Buy Recycled,” and encouraging others to do the same.

“For America Recycles Day 2017,” it reads, “I pledge to: Learn—I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community. Act—Within the next month, I will reduce the amount of waste I produce, I will recycle more, and I will buy products made with recycled content. Share—In the next month, I will encourage one family member or one friend to take the #BeRecycled pledge.”

The America Recycles Day site encourages visitors to report their own special recycling tales and “share your success story, and host their own event. It offers ideas on hosting an America Recycles Day event and provides a downloadable toolkits to help get started, along with go-to guides and activity ideas complete with step-by-step instructions on how to host and promote its overarching theme: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

 

 

Shampoo bottles, plastic bags, wraps, bottles and caps, boxes, jars, cans, newspapers, electronics—even unwanted mail and mobile devices—every little bit of recycling helps, and together, it all adds up.  

Those astonishing aforementioned figures—757,000 jobs, $36.6 billion in wages $6.7 billion in tax revenues—are just some of the extraordinary findings of a 2016 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) update to a national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study analyzing recycling and reuse activities within the United States.

Other amazing statistics are highlighted within the EPA’s annual Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures analysis, which found that in 2014, about 258 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) were generated in the United States. (Yuck!)

Of that, more than 89 million tons were recycled and composted—equivalent to a 34.6 percent recycling rate currently, which overall has tripled throughout the past 30 years!

Impressive?! Most definitely! Yet we still have a super-long way to go.

One key piece of the eco-friendly planet-saving initiative for a brighter, greener future is anaerobic digestion, a biological process which breaks down organic materials—such as animal manure, food scraps, fats, oils, greases, industrial organic residues and sewage sludge—into biogas, renewable energy resources, and even fertilizer.   

At its heart, anaerobic digestion is the epitome of recycling and reuse, and embodies all that America Recycles Day celebrates and hopes to inspire.

Yaphank, NY-based American Organic Energy (AOE) is one such company leading the charge into this green revolution. It’s already agreed to accept organic waste from Brooklyn as part of New York City’s highly touted ambitious organic waste collection program and Zero Waste Initiative, and AOE’s advanced anaerobic digester will process 180,000 tons of food waste, 30,000 tons of fats, oils and greases, and more than 10,000 tons of grass clippings, annually.

Whoa—talk about recycling!

According to the EPA, traditional recycling and composting of MSW substantially reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2014, the aforementioned 89 million tons of MSW recycled and composted resulted in a reduction of more than 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions.

That reduction is comparable to the annual emissions of more than 38 million passenger cars, states the agency.

The biogas produced during anaerobic digestion hold a wide range of environmentally friendly uses. According to the EPA, among other positive benefits, it can “power engines, produce mechanical power, heat and/or electricity (including combined heat and power systems); fuel boilers and furnaces, heating digesters and other spaces; run alternative-fuel vehicles; and supply homes and business through the natural gas pipeline.”

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The anaerobic digestion processes utilized by American Organic Energy help reduce waste, eradicate landfills, eliminate greenhouse gases, and ultimately, help ensure a cleaner, healthier, less-wasteful future for us all. Its biogas will be utilized to power its own facility and a fleet of trucks to collect even more food waste, and its leftover nutrient-rich wet mixture—called “digestate”—returns to the environment through organic fertilizer.

Anaerobic digestion and its many benefits were also recently highlighted in a voluminous global survey analyzing the impact of the so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution”—the current period of technological advancements melding the physical, digital and biological worlds—on the waste management and recycling industry.

In the report, Atilio Savino, an International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Board member representing the Regional Development Network of Latin American, citing one of the most innovative minds in history while stressing the significance of emulating renewable energy processes and recycling/reuse processes such as anaerobic digestion.

“Albert Einstein told us that we must think in a different way if we would like to change the status quo,” he writes. “The solid waste sector could be fundamental in paving the way of the transition to the new economy.

“Waste should be redefined and the products should be designed to be part of the industrial metabolism that will copy the biological metabolism of nature.”

Thanks to environmentally conscious initiatives such as “America Recycles Day” and the innovative renewable energy-creating processes of anaerobic digester facilities such as American Organic Energy, more and more people are learning about the positive impacts of recycling, in all its forms, and consequently, changing our world for the better.

To learn more about “America Recycles Day” and the extraordinarily positive impacts of recycling and reuse, check out americarecyclesday.org. Support the initiative by using #BeRecycled across social media networks on November 15. To learn more about American Organic Energy and all its eco-friendly benefits, visit usbiopower.com.

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