Trash to Treasure: 50 Remarkable Facts About Recycling and Sustainability

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1Aluminum: 75% Recycled

Aluminum: 75% Recycled

Approximately 75 percent of all aluminum ever produced remains in use today, thanks to recycling.

2. Tokyo boasts an incredibly efficient recycling system. Combustible trash is incinerated, with the resulting smoke and gases thoroughly cleaned before release. The remaining ash is then repurposed as a substitute for clay in construction cement.

3. Nearly 70% of the steel utilized in the US is derived from recycled scrap. Construction steel maintains an impressive recycling rate of 90%.

4. Asphalt pavement ranks as America's most recycled product. Reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) can be transformed into pavement of equal, or even superior, quality compared to pavements made from entirely new materials. Remarkably, this material can be recycled repeatedly without diminishing its value.

5. Switzerland has achieved landfill-free status by recycling 50% of municipal waste and incinerating the remaining 50% to generate electricity.

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6Plant-Based Plastics: 96%

Plant-Based Plastics: 96%

Chemists have pioneered two plant-based alternatives to traditional fossil fuel-based plastics. By utilizing chemical recycling instead of mechanical methods, a remarkable 96% of the original material can be reclaimed.

7. In Michigan, a 10-cent bottle deposit-double the usual 5 cents-contributes to an impressive 97% recycling rate. In contrast, states with bottle deposits average 70%, while those without deposit laws see only 33% recycling.

8. In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, Vietnamese farmers ingeniously repurposed thousands of external fuel tanks from U.S. aircraft to construct river boats and canoes.

9. Recycled glass finds new life as glass containers and is virtually infinitely recyclable. Notably, every metric ton (1,000 kg) of glass recycled into new items prevents the release of 315 kg (694 lb) of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

10. Sweden's recycling prowess has led to a unique challenge: the country has depleted its own trash stock and now imports 80,000 tons of trash annually from neighboring Norway.

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11Guinness Electric Car

Guinness Electric Car

The electric car that clinched the Guinness record for the longest driven distance without recharge was predominantly assembled from recycled parts, with a total cost of under $14,000.

12. Recycling a ton of aluminum cans consumes a mere 5% of the energy required for new production, effectively saving 40 barrels of oil per recycled ton.

13. Adidas has taken a bold step by crafting shoes from recycled ocean plastic. In 2017, they successfully sold over a million pairs of these innovative shoes, each pair requiring 11 plastic bottles for creation.

14. The entirety of tin produced in the US undergoes recycling. Despite the cessation of tin mining since 1993 and tin smelting since 1989, the US remains a prominent secondary producer, recycling close to 14,000 metric tons in 2006.

15. In Cairo, Egypt, a community referred to as "Garbage City" meticulously collects and recycles over 80% of the city's waste. These predominantly Christian residents have dedicated decades to this noble endeavor.

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16Wimbledon Mice Homes

Wimbledon Mice Homes

Wimbledon's used tennis balls find an unconventional second life as protective housing from predators for harvest mice.

17. A renowned Japanese national daily newspaper pioneered a fully recyclable edition, complete with embedded plant seeds in its newsprint. After reading, the newspaper could be directly planted in the soil to sprout and grow.

18. Some roller coasters experience recycling of a different kind-being sold and relocated to new theme parks. Remarkably, reclaimed roller coasters can cost 80% less than new ones. For instance, the Tsunami roller coaster has graced four different theme parks since 1986.

19. Paper can be recycled up to six times before the fibers lose their structural integrity.

20. Finland's recycling commitment is evident, as they recycle over 90% of their cans and bottles, partially recouping their initial costs.

21Istanbul Dog Recycling

Istanbul Dog Recycling

Istanbul has a unique vending machine that dispenses food and water to stray dogs in exchange for recycled plastic bottles from people.

22. Bryan Ware, the founder of the Crayon Initiative, transforms discarded hotel crayons into larger ones, which are then donated to hospitals, schools, and other organizations.

23. Germany stands out with a highly progressive waste disposal system, recycling almost 70% of its waste and cleanly incinerating the remaining portion to generate power.

24. The Beijing subways are leading the way by allowing plastic bottles as a form of payment, thereby encouraging recycling.

25. Ferrock, a promising alternative to concrete, harnesses recycled waste and absorbs carbon dioxide during production. Although not widely adopted due to higher production costs and the utilization of waste steel dust, its potential remains intriguing.

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