Buy Recycled Content Products
Thanks in large part to citizen demand, recycled material is turning up in an increasing array of products and packaging. By seeking out and selecting those products, you can encourage manufacturers to use recycled material in their feedstock and motivate them to use even more recycled material.
Sure things in recycled-content packaging
A high percentage of post-consumer materials can be found in four types of product packaging:
- Aluminum beverage cans: The average aluminum beverage can is made of more than 51 percent recycled aluminum from old beverage cans. With more than five of every 10 aluminum cans being recycled in the United States, they are the most recycled beverage container.
- Glass bottles and jars: Approximately 35 percent of glass in glass bottles in the United States is recycled material. Generally, glass must be separated by color to have value in new bottle manufacture, but mixed glass is also used as abrasives in sandblasting, aggregate in roadbed construction, beads in reflective paint, frictionators in matches and ammunition and other applications.
- Steel cans: A little less than 60 percent of steel cans sold in this country are returned for recycling into a variety of products. More than 28 percent of the steel in an average steel can is post-consumer.
- Molded pulp containers: Paperboard egg cartons, fruit trays and flower pots are made from high percentages of recycled paper. Overall, recycled paper supplies about 35 percent of the U.S. paper industries’ raw materials.
Recycled material is used to produce several other types of packaging and nondurable goods, but they compete with items made with no post-consumer material that often are priced lower than recycled-content counterparts. Seeking and purchasing recycled content items can be particularly important as it sends a strong signal to manufacturers that recycling is good for business:
- Paperboard boxes: Recovered paper and paperboard accounted for nearly 38 percent of new paper production in the United States in 1998, but read the label for post-consumer content.
- Plastic bottles and jugs: Of the two types of plastic beverage containers generally accepted by residential recycling programs, HDPE is generally used to make plastic lumber and containers for non-food items. PET goes primarily into textiles and carpeting. Soft drink and bottled water makers have been slow to use recycled PET in new bottles, but new technology (developed with the support of an ODNR Recycling Market Development Grant) is making this sort of “closed loop” recycling more feasible. America’s plastics manufacturers have far more capacity to use recycled plastic than consumers are recycling. Plastics’ increasing role in consumer packaging make it particularly important to recycle plastic and to seek products made from post-consumer plastic.
- Bath and facial tissue, napkins and paper towel: Competitive in performance and price with non-recycled alternatives, These disposable paper products are often made from lower grades of mixed paper. While not recycled into new paper products for obvious reasons, paper products that are flushed after use are often composted with other wastewater sludge. Other paper tissues and towels can be added to the kitchen scrap compost pile.
Writing paper and envelopes: The push by some business and government agencies to provide markets for high-grade recycled office paper helped make high-grade recycled papers more widely available.
Information from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Recycling & Litter Prevention.