Prevent Pollution

Manufacturing with recycled materials, with very few exceptions, produces less air and water pollution than manufacturing with virgin materials. It results in a net reduction for ten major categories of air pollutants (such as nitrogen oxide, particulates, and sulfur oxides) and eight major categories of water pollutants.

In the U.S., processing minerals contributes almost half of all reported toxic emissions from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollution into the air and water each year. Recycling can significantly reduce these emissions.

Landfills can be major sources of groundwater pollution if watery "leachate" escapes through underlying clay or plastic linings. Leachate from municipal landfills is similar in composition to that of hazardous waste landfills and in fact, 20% of the sites on the Superfund list (the nation's most hazardous sites) are solid waste landfills.

Consumer electronics are creating a growing source of pollution, constituting 40% of the lead found in landfills. The National Safety

Fast Fact

The organization Recycling International reports that 1.5 million people are employed in the recycling industry worldwide.

Council predicts that in the U.S. between as many as 680 million computers will become obsolete within the next few years; in addition to 1 billion pounds of lead, this waste will contain more than 4 billion pounds of plastic, 1.9 million pounds of cadmium, 1.2 million pounds of chromium, and nearly 400,000 pounds of mercury.

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