America Recycles Day is a coordinated effort of private and public entities. The various events around the country encourage Americans about the benefits of recycling and reusing materials. We are reminded, again, that recycling is a major way to conserve our natural resources and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The commemoration was started in 1997 by the “National Recycling Coalition”. It has since become a major program of “Keep America Beautiful” ever since 2009. Some of the entities that take part or sponsor today’s event include the Environmental Protection Agency, and organizations that represent industry interests. Some of these include: Aluminum, Copper, Iron, Stainless Steel, and other scrapping companies.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries issued some interesting comparisons in one of their press releases:
* The US recycles enough copper, each year, to build 25,000 copies of the Statue of Liberty.
* In one year, domestic recycled aluminum can recycling, in the US, saved the energy equivalent of 17,000,000 barrels of gasoline. That’s enough to propel at least a million cars for an entire year.
* In an average year, the American scrap industry recycles about 5,400,000 metric tonnes of aluminum, 2,000,000 tonnes of copper, 240,000 metric tonnes of lead, and 2,000,000 tonnes of nickle and stainless steel.
* The US recycles around 11,900,000 cars, which yields around 15,500,000 tonnes of shredded scrap.
This year’s main focus for America Recycles Day. Attention is placed on the safe, sustainable, recycling and reuse of electronics. This is a prime interest of the non-profit organization “Sustainable Electronics Recycling International, SERI. This theme also dovetails with my own recycling agenda.
Yesterday, I wrote out a short list of electronics that are gathering dust in the den and in the basement. There’s one entire desktop computer that runs on Windows 98SE, sitting in the basement. My first computer, a laptop, that runs on Windows 95, is stashed under the sofa in my den. Another laptop, loaded with XP Pro, has serious hardware issues that would require expensive repair. It’s also under the same sofa.
There’s an old multi-band radio that barely puts out sound anymore. Two sorry cordless telephones and a broken dual cassette answering machine take up space in a storage tub. I remember there are sundry small digital clocks and other devices stashed away in various places.
I’m guessing that most Americans could create similar or larger lists. It’s important that we do not throw these gadgets into the garbage and landfills. Many of our devices contain precious metals and hazardous material that should not enter into the general waste stream. We need to take advantage of the electronics recycling days that are organized in many communities, throughout the year.
Again, SERI has member organizations, corporations, and governmental entities on board with electronics recycling efforts. Some of them include: Keep America Beautiful, SourceAmerica® (a network of electronics recyclers), DirecTV, and Goodwill Stores. There are many other groups that recycle electronics, so you may wish to do some quick homework for any that are specific to your area.
In a big way to help the country’s recycling needs, businesses, schools, and communities can partner with R2 Certified recyclers. R2 is the standard that is administered by SERI. R2 Certified recyclers abide by a strict set of processes, documentation, and safety measures to recycle and repair used electronics devices. Collection events or permanent collection sites can be organized in partnership with one of the R2 certified recyclers.
The main takeaways for us during America Recycles Day are information about what materials are collected locally and who collects them. We can take a personal/family inventory of materials that need to be recycled. Most importantly, we can then physically remove the items from our homes and businesses then have them recycled properly.
I hope you have a meaningful America Recycles Day.