Recycling Myths Debunked (Alaska Waste)

Have questions about recycling in Anchorage, and whether it’s really worthwhile? Here are some important facts to consider about recycling in Alaska’s largest city compiled by our recycling provider, Alaska Waste!

Myth: Most recycling is just thrown out, anyway.

Fact: Less than 10 percent of materials are estimated to be thrown out once they arrive Anchorage Recycling Center. There are two reasons materials get tossed: Contamination from unclean items – like greasy pizza boxes – and materials put in the bin that aren’t really recyclable, like #3-7 plastics. You can help cut down on contamination by making sure your recyclables are clean, and you’re recycling the right materials. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out!

Myth: Glass doesn’t get recycled in Anchorage.

Fact: When you drop your glass off at the Anchorage Recycling Center or Anchorage Regional Landfill, it gets hauled to Central Recycling Services. The glass is crushed and used as the underlayment for city projects like water pipes and electric lines.

Fun fact: the Commercial Recycling Services also takes asphalt, dry wall, and lumber!

Myth: Recycling doesn’t help our community.

Fact: Recycling helps Anchorage in a couple of key ways. First, diverting materials helps keep the Anchorage Regional Landfill open longer. The landfill’s current lifespan is about 35 years, and the longer it is open, the less money the community will have to pay in coming decades for waste management.

Second, and more broadly, recycling materials uses fewer resources than making brand new items. That resource conservation helps the environment. For example, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 7,000 gallons of water, and 4,000 kilowatts of energy (Source: EPA).

Myth: Recycling uses more energy than making something new.

Fact: Whether you’re recycling glass, paper, scrap metal, aluminum, or plastic, recycling uses far less energy and resources than creating new materials. Recycling aluminum uses less than 5 percent of energy used to make a brand new can. Recycling plastic uses two-thirds the amount of energy required to make it from raw materials. And recycling steel and tin cans saves up to three-fourths of the energy used to make new products. Recycling also cuts down on the use of oil and gasoline. For example, one ton of recycled steel saves the energy equivalent of 3.6 barrels of oil. (Source: EPA)

In Anchorage, our recycling is hauled to Washington State on barges that would otherwise be empty, having traveled to Alaska to drop off groceries and other goods.

Myth: Your trucks just take recycling to the landfill.

Fact: We deliver over 900 tons of recycled materials to the Anchorage Recycling Center every month. Our trucks haul recyclables seven days a week!

This post first appeared on Alaska Waste