Why is recycling important?
The state of our environment today is such that it needs all the help that we can give it.
Global climate change is increasingly detrimental to the polar ice caps, which are one of the major regulators of our global climate. The bottom line is that our environment is in a dire state and we need to do our part for the environment.
Help the environment by recycling! Landfills are the largest source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more detrimental than carbon dioxide. The EPA admits all landfill liners will eventually leak and their toxic leachate, or garbage juice, that will seep into and contaminate soil and groundwater supplies.
Recycling is a daily activity for more than 100 million Americans and a great way to protect our environment and stimulate our economy. To understand the value of recycling, we must look at the entire lifecycle of a product ― from the extraction and processing of raw materials, to the manufacture of a product, to its final disposal. Recycling creates a closed-loop system where unwanted products are returned back to manufacturers for use in new products. This prevents the pollution and destruction that occurs when virgin materials –like trees and precious metals– are extracted from the earth.
By recycling only about 30% of our waste every year, Americans can save the equivalent of 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline annually and reduce greenhouse gases to the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road.
When recycled materials are used in place of virgin materials during manufacturing, we avoid the environmental damage caused by mining for metals, drilling for petroleum, and harvesting trees. Producing recycled white paper creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than producing paper from virgin fibers. Using recycled cans instead of extracting ore to make aluminum cans produces 95% less air pollution and 97% less water pollution. Recycling and remanufacturing are 194 times more effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions than landfilling and virgin manufacturing.
For every one job at a landfill, there are ten jobs in recycling processing and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturing. The recycling industry employs more workers than the auto industry.
Selling recyclable materials offsets the extra costs of collecting and processing recyclables, making recycling the cheaper option for the community. Plus, all the environmental benefits of recycling, such as reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, have economic value as well— more than $55 per ton compared to landfilling.
Recycle bins are indicated by the recycle logo; typically in blue. The following are just some examples of what materials should be recycled, and what they can become:
Plastic bags: can be used to create plastic-wood lumber.
Glass containers: mainly recycled into wine bottles, shards are mixed with asphalt for road base.
Aluminum cans: are recycled into more aluminum cans. Aluminum is unique in that the material can be recycled over and over again. It also has one of the shortest journeys from the sort line back to the shelf. An aluminum can that you put out for recycling today can be back on the shelf at your local grocer in as little as 30 days.
Milk cartons and other aseptic containers: are made of high quality paper and may be recycled into tissue products.
Clean white office paper: is made into more paper.
Organics bins are indicated by the color green and generally have a leaf or tree logo. Organics are anything that came from nature (i.e. plants or animals) and can be easily decomposed. They make up approximately 25% of what we put in the trash. Instead of polluting the earth sitting in the landfill or being burned in the incinerator, organic waste can be recycled into compost, a valuable resource in landscaping and road construction projects. Recycled organics are used to replenish soil and reduce soil erosion. Decomposed organics also aid in capturing carbon dioxide for climate protection and help to prevent rainwater from contaminating our water resources.*
Most of the organic waste taken from SkyRidge is hauled to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Once at the Arboretum it is composted into soil and fertilizer and used throughout the 1,100+ acres of gardens and tree collections, prairie and woods and miles of trails. The rest of the organic waste from SkyRidge is stored on site and gets reused in landscaping projects throughout the nature preserve.
*Vintage Waste Systems Inc., our organics hauler
Trash bins are indicated by either black or red and may have a trash bin logo. One way to dispose of non-reusable waste is to burn it. The burning process produces carbon dioxide and methane, which is the most detrimental to the environment. These greenhouse gases contribute to global climate change and the production of smog.
Another way is to dump in the ocean or a landfill. Tossing it in the ocean harms our marine life and damages the world’s beaches. In a landfill, the trash is hidden under a layer of soil. However, just because it isn’t visible, doesn’t mean the problem is gone.
The trash from Bailey Properties is sent to the incinerator used by Vintage Waste Systems Inc. It is then burned in a facility next to the new Twins Stadium, Target Field.
There are no good options for trash disposal which is why it's important that before you toss your waste in the trash, stop and think! Can it be reused in any way? Is it compostable or recyclable? For some, answering those questions needs to be a conscious decision, but after a little practice it can become second nature for everyone!
What happens to waste at SkyRidge?
Bailey Properties and the SkyRidge Business Center & Nature Preserve both have a strong committment to our environment and its future. SkyRidge is constantly working closely with waste pickup services to confirm waste from the property is handled in the most environmentally friendly way. Additionally, SkyRidge recieves 100% of its energy from wind turbines provided by Xcel Energy. Bailey Properties and SkyRidge never stop working to improve our processes for a greener future, which is no wonder why SkyRidge I at 5800 Baker Road is rated LEED Plaitnum for existing buildings and is Energy Star Certified.
All suites at the SkyRidge Business Center & Nature Preserve are offered a three part waste program for recyclables, organics and trash.
Graphics by Sam Akin.
Minnesota Landscape Abroretum
Incinerator near Target Field