Back to top

A businesslike look at America Recycles Day

A businesslike look at America Recycles Day
Renée Yardley
November 14 2017

A businesslike look at America Recycles Day

America recycles one-third of municipal solid waste, and more would be better

The recycling and composting rate for municipal solid waste (MSW) in the United States was 34 percent in 2016, the same level as in 2010, and up from 29 percent in 2000. So, while there has been progress, there’s still work to do.

The role of America Recycles Day, held on November 15, is to promote and celebrate recycling. Activities like community events are designed to build understanding – how, what, where and why to recycle – then encourage people to develop the daily recycling habit.   

Changing behavior is the key, as indicated in a thought-provoking tweet from America Recycles Day:

In a recent survey, an overwhelming majority of people agreed that recycling is very important, but only half recycle frequently when in a public space. How often do you recycle on-the-go?#BeRecycled

Businesses, which are huge paper consumers, can step up and increase their recycling rates by 20 per cent by making recycling more convenient for employees, according to a study on workplace attitudes and behavior.  Nothing complex is required – it’s mainly a matter of placing the right bins in the right places.

The Environmental Paper Network points out the importance of proper sorting: “Once office paper is combined with newsprint, boxes, packaging and magazines into ‘mixed paper’ bales, it cannot be used by mills making printing and office papers. Sorted out, though, it’s exactly the fiber source they need.”

America recycles two-thirds of paper and cardboard, and the forest products industry wants more

The recovery rate for paper and cardboard waste was a healthy 67 percent in 2016, up from 63 percent in 2010, and way ahead of 46 per cent in 2000.   By weight, more paper is recovered for recycling from MSW than glass, plastic, steel and aluminum combined.

The first benefit of recycling paper is less landfilling – and decomposing paper is a major source of landfill methane, a significant contributor to climate change. The use of recovered fibers in recycled paper avoids the creation of more than 20 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents a year (2014 figures for American Forest & Paper Association members, which represents the bulk of the industry).

The AF&PA is targeting a 70 percent recovery rate for paper and cardboard by 2020, so the industry’s need for recycled fiber is good for the environment, too. 

Recycling is good for business, and employs 750,000 Americans

Recycling creates at least 10 times more jobs than landfilling and incinerating waste. Half of those jobs are for collecting and processing recyclable materials; half are for either manufacturing new products (like recycled paper), composting, or reusing old materials found in recycling bins.

As recycled paper manufacturer, Rolland sees post-consumer recycled fiber as a valuable renewable resource. Like any sustainability-minded business, we make the most of that resource by limiting fiber loss in our paper manufacturing process.  The same attitude extends to other natural resources, like water, because our mill recirculates each drop 30 times.  And since we rely on biogas energy from a local landfill site, we truly get the maximum benefit from the waste stream.  

Recycling makes people feel good and makes America look better

America Recycles Day is an initiative of Keep America Beautiful, which has conducted insightful research into individual attitudes about recycling.  Among other findings, this research indicates that the strongest motivation for recycling is knowing that waste doesn’t have to go to landfill, and can be given another life as useful products like recycled paper. 

In short, recycling makes people feel good. Since recycling also takes trash off the street and reduces landfilling, it also makes America look better.  You could even say it keeps America beautiful.

One more reason for using recycled paper

Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®), Ancient Forest Friendly, Ecologo and Processed Chlorine Free certifications, among others, confirm Rolland’s commitment to manufacturing best practices.

These environmental certifications also let our customers know they are doing the right thing, when buying sustainable paper.  And as the demand for recycled products increases, the greater the need for a higher recycling rate to provide the required post-consumer fiber.

Needless to say, America Recycles Day has Rolland’s full support, 365 days a year!