There is real value in ‘trash’

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Many of the items thrown in the trash have value.

Plastic and glass bottles, aluminum and steel cans, old newspapers and used cardboard boxes have a cash value, but in Kentucky, these items are thrown away more often than being recycled. 

According to the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection, Kentucky only recycles about a third of our solid waste (aka trash). 

With the average American discarding about seven and one-half pounds of garbage every day, a family of four produces over 10,000 pounds of waste per year. 

Much of the waste is capable of being recycled.  While the landfill is a proper disposal method for this waste, recycling allows the materials to be reused while reducing needed energy and resources to produce new materials from raw materials and reducing landfill space.

Recycling just one aluminum beverage can save enough energy to power a television for three hours or a 23 watt compact-fluorescent bulb for 16 hours.

Recycling is critical to local industries.  At the core of their products, North American Stainless and Nucor Gallatin use recycled metallic scrap as their primary feedstock.  The recycled material comes from sources like scrapped automobiles, building demolitions, excess material from making other products, and small scrap dealers. 

Other industries in Kentucky such as Logan Aluminum, Century Aluminum and International Paper, as well as many others across the United States, use aluminum, recycled paper, cardboard, plastic and glass to make new products. 

Each of these businesses relies on a steady supply of recycled materials.

If you aren’t already, please consider supporting these industries by recycling.


Brian Carson is an environmental specialist at North American Stainless.