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[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.
Sound Resource Management - Durham
3206A Myra Street
Durham, NC 27707

WA: 360-319-2391
NC: 919-403-1406

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Susan Hubbard [mailto:susanh@no.address]
  Sent: Monday, November 03, 2003 1:45 PM
  To: web@no.address; greenyes@no.address; radio@no.address;
  Cc: 'Susan Hubbard'
  Subject: This American Life

  Dear Recyclers,

  The Public Radio Broadcast last night of This American Life surprisingly
slammed glass recycling and confirmed "through many expert opinions"  .
there are plenty of landfills." and ". we shouldn't feel bad about throwing
away glass." They then interviewed Richard Denison of the Environmental
Defense, formerly EDF and they must have surgically removed this one quote
from his whole interview to get this one terribly unfortunate sentence,
something about how "although recycling glass saves energy it just doesn't
make that big of a difference in terms of energy saved through the
manufacturing process.."

  Then it trailed off with Denison saying he hoped that folks still recycled
their glass.

  A report that Richard Denison wrote for EDF in 1996 "Environmental
Life-Cycle Comparisons of Recycling, Landfilling and Incineration states
otherwise. In his analysis of four national studies that compared the
environmental basis of recycling (DOE, Tellus Inst., Sound Resource
Management Group (SRMG) and Franklin & Assoc. for Keep Am. Beautiful),
recycling a ton of glass saves between 1.2 and 2.8 million Btu's compared to
landfilling or incineration. The reuse of glass bottles isn't in the

  SRMG since that time has done much more work in the analysis of glass
recycling benefits and many of those pieces have been posted to this list. I
am copying "This American Life" on this email. Perhaps we could all email
them with information about glass recycling since they sincerely sounded
concerned about the benefits of recycling in general and glass recycling

  Here are some of their email addresses: web@no.address   radio@no.address

  And here is their website

  And here is their address:

  This American Life WBEZ Radio
  Navy Pier
  848 East Grand Avenue
  Chicago, IL 60611


  Susan Hubbard

  President/ Chief Executive Officer

  Eureka Recycling

  624 Selby Ave.

  Saint Paul, MN 55104



  Email: susanh@no.address

  Visit our WEBSITE!

  Eureka Recycling is a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to reduce
waste today through innovative resource management and to reach a waste-free
tomorrow by demonstrating that waste is preventable not inevitable.

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