Friday, September 30, 2011

Cape Cod Chronicle Column August 4, 2011



    In some industries, recycling of widely used materials can sharply reduce the energy requirements for reprocessing. For example, increased use of paper recycling could also save enormous amounts of energy and help avoid increased deforestation in the world.
   Recycling offers even larger gains in the aluminum industry. The production of aluminum from bauxite ore is one of the most energy-intensive processes in the global economy. However, 95 percent of the energy can be eliminated by processing recycled aluminum instead of producing fresh quantities from bauxite. Yet vast quantities of aluminum are discarded annually.
   In the United States alone, more than 50 billion aluminum cans are thrown away each year - more than half of the 100 billion sold each year. The Container Recycling Institute reported that between 1990 and 2000, citizens of the United States wasted enough aluminum cans to "reproduce the world's entire commercial air fleet 25 times." Large quantities of aluminum are also discarded - instead of being recycled - in the form of appliances and other durable goods.
   When you add the 29 billion glass bottles and 7 billion higher density plastic bottles and jugs that are also thrown away each year instead of being recycled, it means that there are 9 aluminum, plastic, or glass containers thrown away every week on average by every man, woman and child in the United Stats. If they were routinely recycled instead, the energy saved in making new containers would equal the energy equivalent of 53.5 million barrels of imported crude oil - which would be the equivalent of eliminating all the gasoline used by two million cars."

-excerpts from Al Gore's "Our Choice," now an interactive e-book
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