The recycling world is not immune to myths but don't let these rumors stop you from making a difference. We have compiled the biggest fibs and explained how they just aren't true.
Myth 1: Recycling does not save natural resources
Making products from recycled materials uses far less natural resources than manufacturing the same product from virgin (new) materials. For example, using one ton of recycled steel saves 2,500 pounds of ore, 1,400 pounds of coal, and 120 pounds of limestone from being mined.
Myth 2: Recyclables just get thrown away
That's just plain illegal. County ordinance prohibits waste haulers from taking materials that have been collected as recycling to landfills or incinerators. All recycling in the Twin Cities is brought to one of many recycling facilities to get sorted and sold for further processing.
Myth 3: We already recycle everything we can
Minnesotans are good recyclers, but we could be even better. A 2013 study found that a lot of paper, plastic, glass and metal is still put in the trash. In fact, nearly 50% of what was tossed could have been recycled. An additional 25% could have been composted.
Myth 4: Recycling is inconvenient
Recycling has never been easier. County ordinance requires that all waste haulers offer recycling to their customers. That means recycling is literally at your doorstep. Drop-off sites like The Recycling Zone are located around the county to handle larger quantities of recyclables (like bulk cardboard).
Myth 5: Mixing paper, cans and bottles in one cart ruins the recycling stream
Single-sort recycling means putting all your glass, plastic, cans and paper into one bin. All recycling facilities can sort out and separate metals, glass, paper, and plastics to be baled and sent to the manufacturing market. There are still some items that shouldn't go into your curbside card like liquids, plastic bags, and batteries.
Myth 6: Recycling costs too much
Recycling provides financial, economic and environmental benefits. The recycling industry provides 37,000 jobs in Minnesota alone. In fact, for every one job in the waste industry, four jobs are created in recycling. Using recycled products has many benefits for manufacturers. For instance, recycled glass extends the life of glass furnaces because less energy is needed.
Myth 7: All recyclables get shipped somewhere far away
Many manufactures are located right here in Minnesota. Anchor Glass in Shakopee melts recycled glass to create new beverage containers. RockTenn in St. Paul recycles paper and cardboard into new paper. Gerdau-Ameristeel in South St. Paul recycles metal cans to make new metal products.
Myth 8: Recyclables aren't worth much, if anything
Recyclable material has a tremendous economic value. In 2010, the 2.5 million tons of recyclables collected in Minnesota alone were worth $690 million. Recycling, like any business, must make a profit to keep the lights on and is affected by market values of materials.