Author: T. Hungate, Volunteer Author

the energy of recycling

Did you know that some of the waste materials that you put into your curbside recycling bin each week can be used to create energy? With the ever-growing population and current consumer lifestyle, consumption habits are causing a waste problem, having a devastating impact on ecosystems and cultures around the world.

The good news is that there are a number of alternative energy companies out there thinking up extremely resourceful ways to recycle waste and create energy at the same time. These companies and the technologies they are engineering will reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and makes good use of the waste by converting it into some form of usable energy.

Recycling Energy – Did you know that creating an aluminum can from recycled aluminum required 95% less energy than making them from raw materials? Just one aluminum can is equal to enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 3.5 hours; similarly the energy saved by recycling just one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for 4 hours. To top that, one of the most widely used materials in the US is steel; it is used in construction, cars, cans, drums and barrels just to name a few, and every pound of steel that is recycled saves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for over 26 hours.

Recycling paper not only cuts US energy use in half, but it saves trees as well, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Each year more and more uses for recycled paper are developed, creating an even higher demand for used paper products. On a large scale, recycling will make a difference…and perhaps reverse some of the damage that has already been caused.

Converting Waste Heat to Electricity – Physicists have found a way to harvest energy through heat. This process is called “Thermoelectricity”, and it “can convert heat directly into electric energy using a device that uses no moving parts.

Reuse – It may sound odd, but yes reuse is a major energy saver. Think about it…it takes no energy at all to reuse or repurpose something. You see it around you all over the place nowadays, creative people are finding more and more ways to reuse or repurpose things. You can buy wallets made from old bike tires, tables made from old barrels, and even beautiful furniture made from old wooden pallets. A quick online search can open you up to new and creative ways to use things you may be considering throwing out…reuse is a win in every way.