Why Recycling Is Valuable

Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Today, there are thousands of products made totally or partially from recycled materials. Wayne County has one landfill - let’s use it wisely!

In fact, there is a good chance the soft drink bottle you hold today could have plastic from the bottle you drank from 2 months ago, provided you recycled it! Since 1990, the recycling rate has doubled -- from 16% to 32% in 2005. We recycled 79 million tons (about 1.5 pounds per person per day) in 2005. We generated nearly 246 million tons of municipal solid waste (about 4.5 pounds per person per day) in 2005.

North Carolina households recycled 68 pounds of material per second. In fact, North Carolinians recycled over 1,000,000 tons of material last year. Impressive! Yet we still throw away 679 pounds of garbage every second - almost 10 times what we recycle. That means there is still plenty of room to improve our recycling efforts because much of the waste we continue to throw out can be recycled!

Benefits of Recycling

We should do all we can to significantly reduce how much we throw away. Try to use less, reuse what you can, and get in the habit of recycling as much as possible. The benefits of recycling include:

Conserving Valuable Landfill Space

There is always an environmental and/or economic cost to any type of solid waste management, but recycling can be the most efficient way to extend the life of the landfill.


North Carolina’s “recycling economy” is one of the fastest growing job engines in the state:
  • More than 500 companies across North Carolina use the materials you recycle -from processors to manufacturers.
  • Recycling directly employs 14,000 people across this state - in companies that range from Fortune 500 down to family-owned businesses.
  • Recycling employs more people than the bio-tech and agricultural livestock industry in North Carolina.
The recycling industry is in a growth mode. They just need more supply of the recycled materials.

Tossing the empty cereal box, plastic bottle, glass jar, or aluminum can into a trash can or dumpster is throwing away a highly sought commodity. When you recycle, you provide a raw material for manufacturers.

Energy Savings, Conserving Natural Resources & Reducing Pollution

Recycling a product instead of making the same product from virgin materials helps to conserve natural resources, save energy, and reduce pollution because the materials collected have already been refined and processed once. The amount of savings depends upon material, but can be substantial when compared to production using virgin materials.

Recycling aluminum cans saves 95% of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from bauxite (virgin material); it also reduces air and water pollution by 95%. In fact, 20 recycled cans can be made with the energy needed to produce 1 can using virgin ore!

Producing recycled paper uses 64% less energy and 50% less water (conserving a natural resource). It also causes 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution than producing virgin paper. Protecting the environment and creating jobs for our citizens/investments in our economy can be accomplished together.

How Recycling Is Processed

  • Only recycle the materials requested.
  • Please note items accepted and not acceptable for the materials we collect for recycling on the Disposal Items page. Even a small amount of the wrong material in a batch of recyclables (contamination) can make the whole batch unmarketable. We need your help to keep contamination to a minimum. When in doubt throw it out!
  • Processing facilities are very particular about the quality of the materials because they must meet strict guidelines from the manufacturers who will use them to make a new product.
  • Put trash in its place - the trash can. Food waste, greasy cardboard boxes and plastic containers that held motor oil don’t belong in recycling bins.
  • The materials you recycle are taken to a processing facility where they are sorted and prepared for sale to manufacturers.