Slide 7 of this Time profile, called Garbage is Good: Recycling in America, shows one utility that collected a thousand retired refrigerators during the “Cash for Appliances?? rebate program. But, it doesn’t tell the full story of America’s commendable appliance recycling record. The Steel Recycling Institute publishes annual recycling rates for multiple sectors, including home appliances. You may be surprised to know that major home appliance recycling rates in the US rival other large steel using industries such as automobiles, and steel used in construction, topping 90%. This means that 90% of appliances that reach the end of life in the United States enter the recycling stream. Studies in Canada show that their recycling rate is the same or slightly higher. And the majority of these used appliances contain metals which have a ready market for recycled materials.
Other material recycling rates are starting to edge higher too, as consumers become more aware, and the infrastructure is put in place to handle collection and recycling of such things as aluminum containers etc. In fact, on June 15, the Aluminum Association reported that the rate of beverage can recycling grew to 58.1%. Kudos to the aluminum industry for making great strides to improve recycling rates.
So, every time you place something in the recycling bin at the street, call the city for pick-up of an appliance, or allow a retailer to take back an appliance when you purchase a new one, you are contributing to the overall health of our environment.