Check Out the View

Check Out the View

Posted June 28, 2022

I happen to be back in our NYC office today, and the view out my window looks vastly ‎different than the view I typically have while working from home. Ever look out the window ‎‎(assuming you have one) at work and wonder who is engaged in a similar task that you face ‎almost every day? Does the thought ever drift across your mind that your efforts are part of a ‎more extensive process – a large industry, for example, and your efforts move things along? ‎This idea seems much more likely on a day like today, when I’ve passed hundreds of people on ‎my way in to work.‎

At TRC, we think about recycling every day. If you’re in the recycling business as we are, do ‎these thoughts creep in repeatedly? With the world becoming more environmentally aware, ‎recycling might not be your business, but it is most likely still part of your everyday. ‎

Here are several random facts about the recycling industry and its impact that you might find ‎interesting.‎

  • Who’s the biggest? In ranking the world’s 15 largest recycling companies by revenue, ‎Waste Management, a publicly held company, ranked first with more than $15 billion in ‎revenue. Holding the second spot is privately held Veolia Environmental Service, with ‎more than $12 billion in revenue. You might recognize the name. We use their Port ‎Washington, Wisconsin, operation to recycle our mercury-containing thermostats.‎
  • Aluminum timeline. How long does it take to recycle an aluminum drink can before ‎someone places it back on the grocery shelf? Just 60 days. It’s a good thing, too, because ‎Americans love to recycle aluminum cans, which we recycle more often than any other ‎type of drink container and are recyclable over and over again.‎
  • Paper waste. In 2018, we recycled 52 million tons of paper. That’s a whole lot of paper. ‎Put in more colorful terms, it’s about the same weight as 350,000 Blue whales.‎
  • Plastic container graveyard. Ever wonder what happens to those recycled plastic ‎containers? Well, they can be used to create new plastic containers and other plastic-like ‎products like cellphone cases, playground equipment, clothes and rugs.‎
  • The Golden Rule. Recycling can make one person’s trash another person’s treasure! For ‎example, one metric ton of electronic scrap from personal computers contains more gold ‎than that recovered from 17 tons of gold ore.‎

Let’s Not Forget the Big Picture

While these factoids are informative, interesting, and yes, even fun to read, it is the larger ‎message that we should think about when assessing recycling efforts. There is mostly unanimity ‎on the acceptance that pollution of every kind hurts our planet and endangers the future of our ‎civilization. However, if we work together, the combined effort can make the world whole ‎again. ‎

Is this an idealistic consideration? It is. But then, a touch of idealism never really hurt anyone.‎

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