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Communicating the Benefits of Recycling

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Image of recycling containers in front of a house.
Calculate Climate Benefits

Using tools available online, solid waste planners can demonstrate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions prevented through their community's waste reduction efforts—an exciting way to show community members and decision makers that your waste reduction program has real climate benefits!

Check out EPA's WAste Reduction Model (WARM), a free tool you can use to calculate the GHG emissions prevented through alternative waste management practices such as source reduction, recycling, or composting. By entering your waste reduction numbers into the model, you can calculate the resulting GHG reductions in metric tons of carbon equivalent (MTCE)—a standard measure of greenhouse gas emissions—or energy units (million BTU). Then, using the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, you can translate GHG emissions reductions into real-life equivalents such as barrels of oil, acres of forest preserved from deforestation, or passenger cars not driven for one year.

There are significant environmental and economic benefits associated with recycling. Recycling helps create jobs, can be more cost effective than trash collection, reduces the need for new landfills, saves energy, supplies valuable raw materials to industry, and adds significantly to the U.S. economy.

More Jobs, Economic Development, and Tax Revenue

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More Energy Security

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Less Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Climate Benefits Example

Howard County, Maryland—a county of 270,000 residents in the heart of central Maryland between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—recycled 12,520 tons of glass, plastic, and metals in 2003. Using the tools described above, the county can calculate that its recycling efforts prevented the release of 15,641 metric tons of carbon equivalent, approximately equal to the electricity use of 7,362 American households in one year.

Less Pressure on Landfills and More Natural Resources for Future Generations

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State Economic Impacts

In addition to the environmental and economic benefits described above, recycling contributes significantly to the economies of states across the U.S., as evidenced below.



1 “Florida Recycling Economic Study,” R. W. Beck, Inc. for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, July 2001.

2Economic Benefits of Recycling,” Exit EPA Disclaimer Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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