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[greenyes] RE: Env Benefits of Recycling Glass
Hi Jeff ~

I think that I would have used a different approach than what was suggested.


Using my own County as an example, where we use an estimated 50 million
glass containers a year, and have mandatory recycling, so achieve close to
that 80% reuse and recycling rate for glass, I would have said that thanks
to recycling, we  avoid landfilling 40 million glass bottles and jars a
year. 

If the group that I am speaking to is OK with numbers and the details of how
energy is measured, I might then go on to say that each time a glass bottle
or jar is recycled, according to one reference that I have in my files, it
saves about 1,500 BTUs of energy, so annually, the recycling of glass
bottles and jars by our community saves 60 billion BTUs of energy. With a
more general audience, I would convert this to an energy equivalent of
gasoline, or, about 500,000 gallons of gasoline a year.

I might also say that with an 80% recycling rate that each shard of glass is
used an average of 5 times before it is ulitimately landfilled. 

I would not use any multiplier effect.

John 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jeffrey Morris [mailto:jeff.morris@no.address]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 3:17 PM
> To: Reindl, John; greenyes@no.address
> Subject: RE: Env Benefits of Recycling
> 
> 
> But if we're talking about a system where glass is all disposed all the
time
> versus a system with an 80% glass recycling rate, then the difference in
> energy and environmental benefits of a glass container over its life cycle
> is indeed five times greater than the benefits from just recycling that
> glass container (or a ton of cullet) once.  That's what I understood the
> debate to be about on This American Life - whether glass recycling is
worth
> it.  The difference in life cycle energy and environmental benefits
between
> the dispose-all-glass-all-the-time waste management system and the
> recycle-glass-at-80% waste management system is 5 times greater then the
> numbers that were discussed on This American Life, because those were the
> benefits from recycling a glass container or a ton of cullet just once.
The
> disposal-all-glass-all-the-time system throws away 5 times as much in
energy
> and environmental benefits versus the 80% recycling system.
> 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Reindl, John [mailto:Reindl@no.address]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2003 3:12 PM
> To: greenyes@no.address
> Subject: Env Benefits of Recycling
> 
> 
> While I hate to do it, I must disagree with the analysis 
> below that the
> recycling of a product at an 80% rate means multiplying the 
> benefits of
> recycling the bottle each individual time by 5.
> 
> The problem is not the math formula, with which I agree. A 
> product that is
> recycled at an 80% rate would indeed have an average 
> use/reuse rate of 5
> times before it is discarded. And in deposit states where 95% of the
> aluminum beverage cans are returned, the rate for aluminum 
> cans is 20 times.
> 
> 
> But the environment benefits don't get multiplied by 5; the 
> benefits only
> occur once each time the material is recycled. 
> (Mathematically, the benefits
> that sum to 5 would need to be divided by the number of uses, 
> which is also
> 5.)
> 
> And to the best of my knowledge, the energy and pollution prevention
> benefits of recycling cullet from a glass bottle that is 100% virgin
> material is exactly the same as the benefits of recycling 
> cullet from a
> bottle that has recycled content in it.
> 
> Glass is a marvelous product, but I don't believe that to give it (or
> aluminum cans or newspapers or plastic bottles, etc) a 
> multiplier effect
> based on the recycling rate is mathematically correct.
> 
> John Reindl, Recycling Manager
> Dane County, WI
> 
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Jeffrey Morris [mailto:jeff.morris@no.address]
> > Sent: Monday, November 03, 2003 9:28 PM
> > To: Susan Hubbard; web@no.address; greenyes@no.address;
> > radio@no.address;
> > kagosta@no.address
> > Subject: [greenyes] RE: This American Life
> >
> >
> > Susan and all,
> >
> > One factor that almost always gets overlooked about recycling glass
> > containers back into glass containers is the infinite 
> stream of benefits
> > that a glass recycling system creates.  I'm indebted to 
> Steve Apotheker at
> > Portland Metro for first asking me this question.
> >
> > Here's the real deal.  In a container deposit state suppose 
> 80% of glass
> > containers get recycled back into new recycled-content 
> glass containers
> > during a year.  That means that in the next year 80% of those 80%
> > recycled-content containers get recycled back into new 
> recycled-content
> > glass containers.  And so on.  Those of you that dabble in 
> mathematics or
> > statistics will realize that this infinite series of 
> recycling means that
> > 1/(1-.8) -1 = 4 recycled-content containers get 
> manufactured from each
> > container originally sold if 80% of them are returned in the deposit
> state.
> > (You can use any percentage you want in this formula, so it 
> can be applied
> > to a non-deposit state or city or county as well.)  That 
> means that those
> > energy savings and pollution prevention formulae for a ton 
> of recycled
> glass
> > need to be multiplied by 5, which makes glass recycling 
> much heftier in
> > terms of environmental benefits from energy savings and pollution
> prevention
> > than those numbers discussed on This American Life.
> >
> > Conclusion: Glass has substantial benefits because each 
> glass bottle that
> is
> > recycled spawns an infinite stream of additional recycling and
> consequently
> > an infinite stream of avoided energy consumption and 
> avoided environmental
> > damage that would otherwise occur from using virgin 
> materials and energy
> > sources to make virgin-content glass containers to replace 
> those glass
> > containers that are disposed in the landfill or incinerator.
> > Jeffrey Morris, Ph.D.
> > Economist
> > Sound Resource Management - Durham
> > 3206A Myra Street
> > Durham, NC 27707
> >
> > WA: 360-319-2391
> > NC: 919-403-1406
> > jeff.morris@no.address
> > www.zerowaste.com
> 




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