No more ‘wish-cycling:’ Make better recycling your New Year’s resolution

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(BPT) - Wish-cycling is when you toss that item into the recycling bin, even when you are not 100% sure it goes there. Good intentions can end up contaminating the recycling system. Worse, it could mean that your recycling ends up as waste. That's why you should make your 2022 New Year's resolution to learn how best to recycle in your community.

Recycling saves money, creates jobs and protects the environment. Your recycling can help your community by:

Creating 370,000 full time jobs

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling and reusing activities account for $37.8 billion in wages for workers and $5.5 billion in tax revenues every year. You can grow these numbers. If everyone in the U.S. were recycling 37.4 million tons of materials and delivering them back to economic use, it would generate 370,000 new full-time equivalent jobs nationwide such as collecting curbside recyclables, processing materials, supplying the materials to companies, transporting materials, maintaining equipment and more.

Conserving 154 million barrels of oil

Recycling puts used materials back into use, helping to create a circular economy that means fewer natural resources are extracted for raw materials.

Amcor, which makes plastic packaging for food, beverage, personal care and healthcare products, has been increasing the amount of recycled resin, the material used to make rigid packaging. While resin can be produced during the oil refining process, the use of recycled resin is far more environmentally friendly. In the last two years alone, Amcor bought 86% more recycled resin, which means far less virgin plastic resin used in that plastic bottle you bought.

Plastic bottles for the products most used by consumers can easily be made using recycled material - some can even be made with 100% recycled material. Even better, it can become a never-ending cycle where that beverage or shampoo bottle can be made into a new bottle again and again and again.

Reducing 96 million metric tons of C02

If everyone in the U.S. properly recycled the 20 million tons of household waste that is recyclable instead of throwing it in the trash, the U.S. could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 96 million metric tons. It would have the same effect as taking more than 20 million cars off U.S. highways.

How to properly recycle

It can be confusing to know exactly what to recycle, as guidelines may vary from state to state and even town to town. The lack of consistency across recycling centers in the U.S. is due to varying capabilities and different technologies. Additionally, some packaging is just harder to recycle than others.

For example, cartons that hold shelf-stable milk, soup or coconut water are made from multiple materials and are only recyclable in some communities that can separate the plastic and aluminum from the paper.

Also, although glass containers require a lot of energy to melt down and recycle, some communities still find a use for them by crushing them and using the glass as a landfill cover.

This New Year, take the time to read about the recycling guidelines in your community so you can make it your goal to recycle more and better. Find local recycling guidelines through your town's website or at

December 28, 2021