What began as a way for Counties in Southeastern Minnesota to make recycling work in a rural area has evolved into a viable organization that helps Counties, Cities and private businesses get the most for their recyclable materials. Through cooperative marketing of recyclable materials and sharing educational resources and experience, the Southeastern Minnesota Recyclers Exchange has remained strong through the ups and downs of recycling for over 20 years.
- Eight million tons of plastic end up in the oceans EVERY DAY. That's the equivalent of five grocery bags per foot of every coastline on the planet.
- Ocean plastic can be found everywhere – from deep in the sea to frozen in remote Arctic ice.
- Most plastic is manufactured from petroleum, and it is from this that we sip our water.
- Fifty percent of plastic we produce is used once, then thrown away. The useful life of many plastic grocery bags is 20 minutes, or the amount of time it takes us to drive home.
- More than a million plastic bags are used every 60 seconds.
- Plastic is one of the most enduring materials we make; it takes an estimated 500 to 1,000 years to degrade. Ocean plastic takes longer.
Sources: BBC, National Geographic, Scientific American, Slate, The Royal Society, Keep America Beautiful and US EPA
Five Things That Should Never Appear In Your Recycling Bin
Recycling everything you can is a very good idea. But to make recycling work, all the things that contaminate recycling need to be left out, or all your work recycling could be lost. These five things should never be placed in your recycling bin:
- Plastic bags and other film plastic If you must use plastic bags (there are better alternatives) be sure to take them back to the store where you got it to be recycled. Residential recycling is often sorted mechanically, and the film plastic wraps around that equipment, causing a complete stop to untangle it. If you need to contain recyclables in your bin, use a paper bag.
- Christmas lights and extension cords These materials may contain valuable metal, but they are not recyclable with your residential recycling.
- Garden hoses These items are not made of anything that can be recycled.
- Window glass, drinking glasses, ceramics, mirror glass, auto glass or baking dishes (Pyrex) Only glass bottles and jars from food and beverages are recycled. Ball, Kerr and other canning jars are made to withstand extreme heat, and are not recyclable in your household bin.
- Plastic tarps Tarps contain reinforcements that make them unrecyclable.
You Can Get Something for Nothing…
Are you looking for materials for your business, school or non-profit? Do you have usable items that you want to get rid without putting it in the garbage? Things like office furniture and equipment, packing material, pallets, a kitchen sink…you name it, it can possibly be found at Minnesota Materials Exchange. You can post wanted items or available items. You can give or get things for free, or for a percentage of the cost of new.
Using up excess supplies, repurposing or reusing items that someone does not have a use for helps the environment, saves natural resources, eliminates waste and saves money.
Check out the Minnesota Materials Exchange at www.mnexchange.org - you may find something you have been looking for!
Here are some interesting recycling facts you've always wanted to know:
- One 15 year old tree will make 700 paper bags. Some stores go through that many in an hour.
- For every ton of paper recycled, 17 trees are saved.
- Paper can be recycled an average of seven times before the fibers are too short to be used again.
- On average, every American uses seven trees a year for paper, wood, and other products made from trees.
- Five recycled PETE bottles will make one XL T-shirt. 26 will make a polyester suit.
- There is an area in the North Pacific Ocean the size of Texas that is filled with swirling bits of wasted plastic. Many marine animals mistake these small pieces of plastic for food, and die.
- Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy required to make new
- There is no limit to the number of times aluminum can be recycled
- A modern glass bottle will last 4,000 years if not recycled into new
- Glass never wears out. It can be recycled forever.
- Window pane glass, drinking glasses, mason jars, mirrors and Pyrex® are all made from different types of glass than glass bottles, and cannot be recycled together.