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Recycling and Climate Protection

Waste prevention and recycling are important practices to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—which are the cause of climate change.

Here are just some of the ways a waste-conscious business can reduce carbon emissions:
  • Reuse and Recycle Cardboard Boxes: Save almost 4 tons of CO2 for every ton of corrugated cardboard boxes kept from entering the landfill.
  • Recycle Plastic Film: Avoid the upstream energy necessary to produce one ton of new product saves about 2 tons of CO2 annually.
  • Recycle Paper: The amount of energy and materials it takes to make a ton of office paper is reduced by 4.3 tons of CO2 when recycling paper.
  • Buy Recycled Paper: 20 cases of 30% post-consumer recycled content office paper saves 1 ton of CO2. Buying just 6 cases of 100% recycled paper also saves 1 ton of CO2.
  • Use Reusable Transport Packaging: Save 830 pounds of CO2 by replacing one wood pallet with a recycled plastic pallet.

Less Energy Used = Less GHG Emissions

Waste prevention and recycling decrease the need to extract "virgin" resources from forests, oil reserves and mines, to make products and packaging. This means less energy is consumed to manufacture and transport products and their packaging. As a result, less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are generated. The bottom line: with every item you recycle or reuse, you help reduce greenhouse gases and protect the climate.
 

Less Waste in Landfills = Less GHG Emissions 

Recycling also means less waste going to landfill, which means less methane generated. Methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide, is produced when organic materials—such as paper, food and grass—decompose under the anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions present in landfills. In fact, landfills are currently the leading source of methane. Recycling food scraps keeps organics out of the landfill and prevents methane generation. 
 

Calculate YOUR greenhouse gas reductions!

StopWaste has developed an interactive calculator that you can use to estimate the GHG reductions resulting from your organization’s recycling, composting, and waste reduction efforts. Enter the type and quantity of material recycled to calculate the amount of GHG you reduced, expressed in tons of carbon dioxide, or equivalent number of cars taken off the road. Try the calculator.
 
Note: Savings estimates are based on the Alameda County Template Climate Action Plan research conducted by ICLEI and StopWaste.

Related Resources

The Business Council for Climate Change (BC3) - a partnership of San Francisco Bay Area businesses committed to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. BC3 members collaborate to share ideas and real-world case studies, identify valuable tools, participate in educational forums, and establish best practices.
 
EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM) – This calculator created by the U.S. EPA helps solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions from several different waste management practices, including waste reduction, recycling, combustion, composting and landfilling.

 

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