Recycling Saves Energy

Having recently read your cover story “Recycled Content: What is it and What is it Worth?” [


Vol. 14, No. 2], I would like to commend author Nadav Malin for a very comprehensive review of the subject matter.

I am also compelled to comment on the following quote, attributed to Wayne Trusty, president of the Athena™ Sustainable Materials Institute: “Sometimes it may take more energy and resources to collect, transport, process, and recycle something into a usable product than you save. So there may be cases where we’re better off if we incinerate and capture the energy than if we recycle the product.”

Certainly, the energy-saving benefits of recycling are well documented. Studies confirm that each year recycling in California alone saves enough energy to power 1.4 million homes. No question, the energy balance of recycling some materials is lower than others; however, in the long run strengthening markets for the increased use of post-consumer recycled material is our first strategy for conserving energy and resources.

Safe and healthy recycled-content products do exist in the marketplace, and their use in the building industry continues to grow. In California, the Integrated Waste Management Board has provided more than $70 million in low-interest loans to businesses that manufacture these products. Sustaining that investment with an annual $10 million in available loans is a key part of our strategy to minimize what we bring to landfills.

Thank you for your continued support of recycled-content building materials.

Rosario Marin, Chair

California Integrated Waste Management Board

Sacramento, California

Published April 1, 2005

(2005, April 1). Recycling Saves Energy. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/editorial/recycling-saves-energy

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July 19, 2005 - 5:04 pm

I would agree that the more we can promote the growth of these markets, the better value we will place on anything that is mined, felled, extracted or harvested from the earth. I'm interested to know more about glass - the benefits seem apparent - it appears to be a cradle to cradle material. Does it take more embodied energy to keep recreating, reconfiguring and reusing it as , say, tile? Any feedback would be appreaited.

My belief system tells me it is always better to use recycled c to c materials, as it's infinite reuse far outweighs the other option - using another virgin resource that won't be replaced in my or my children's lifetime.