Recycling Facts

December 17th, 2010

In California, nearly 22 billion CRV-eligible containers were sold last year.

Of those, nearly 15 billion were recycled – hooray!

And the more than 7 billion that ended up in landfills? You could use them to fill every lane of the entire 770-mile length of Interstate 5…more than a foot deep.

Since more than 7 billion bottles and cans ended up in the landfill, nobody claimed the CRV on them.  How much CRV?  Nearly $300 million worth!

CRV is 5¢ for bottles and cans less than 24 ounces, and 10¢ for larger ones.

CRV refunds are available to anyone – consumers, companies or non-profits – who returns bottles and cans to a recycling center.

Last year, Californians claimed more than $900 million in CRV refunds, but nearly $300 million went unclaimed.

By eliminating the need to manufacture new products from raw materials, recycling reduces energy use, in turn reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses in the air.

For every 10 pounds of aluminum you recycle, you eliminate 37 pounds of carbon emissions from the air.

For every 10 pounds of clear plastic water or soda bottles, 3.3 pounds of carbon emissions disappear.

And although glass bottles are a lot heavier, each 10 pounds recycled still reduces carbon by nearly a pound.

In a landfill, aluminum cans take 80-100 years to break down.

Plastic bottles hang around as long as 700 years.

Glass bottles spend 1 million years waiting around to decompose.

What those Little Numbers Mean

While most plastic can be recycled, all plastic must be separated by type of polymer. Fortunately, recycling centers do this for you, so you don’t have to worry about it. But with this chart, it’s easy to imagine what the bottle or can you’re about to recycle will soon become.

Recycling No.
Symbol
Abbreviation
Polymer Name
Uses Once Recycled
1
PETE or PET
Polyethylene
terephthalate
Polyester fibres, thermoformed
sheet, strapping, and soft drink
bottles.
2
HDPE
High density
polyethylene
Bottles, grocery bags,
recycling bins, agricultural
pipe, base cups, car stops,
playground equipment, and
plastic lumber.
3
PVC or V
Polyvinyl
chloride
Pipe, fencing, and non-food
bottles.
4
LDPE
Low density
polyethylene
Plastic bags, 6 pack rings,
various containers, dispensing
bottles, wash bottles, tubing,
and various molded laboratory
equipment
5
PP
Polypropylene
Auto parts, industrial fibers,
food containers, and dishware.
6
PS
Polystyrene
Desk accessories, cafeteria
trays, toys, video cassettes
and cases, and insulation
board and other expanded
polystyrene products (e.g.,
Styrofoam).
7
OTHER
Other plastics, including
acrylic, acrylonitrile
butadiene styrene,
fiberglass, nylon,
polycarbonate, and
polylactic acid.

Thanks to Bottles and Cans for this information!