Why recycle

Energy, economy, and environment: The three E’s

By choosing to recycle we are helping create jobs in Minnesota while keeping our lakes and rivers clean.

Benefits of recycling

Recycling helps support local markets and businesses statewide. And that's not just a warm fuzzy feeling, it's a fact backed up with cold, hard cash.

  • Recycling generates profit. Annually, Minnesota recycling programs collected approximately 2.5 million tons of material worth $690 million.
  • Recycling contributes to our economy. Approximately 37,000 jobs in Minnesota are supported by the industry. These jobs pay an estimated $1.96 billion in wages and add nearly $8.5 billion to Minnesota's economy.

Cost of not recycling

Another 1.2 million tons of recyclable material was thrown away, but could easily have been recycled for an additional estimated value of $285 million. Instead, it cost Minnesota more than $200 million to throw it away into landfills.

Recycling protects our environment

It takes 90% less energy to manufacture an aluminum can from recycled aluminum. Recycled glass? About 50% less energy. Recycled paper? About 75% less energy. Since it takes less energy to manufacture products from recycled materials than it does to manufacture the  same product from virgin (new) materials, recycling decreases demand for fossil fuels and increases our energy independence.

You now know that recycling reduces energy use. This also means recycling directly decreases greenhouse gas emissions and reduces Minnesota’s carbon footprint. Not only that, recycling has indirect benefits to climate change as well -- take paper recycling, for instance. Each mature tree we don't cut down can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants and carbon dioxide out of our air each year.

Recycling and buying recycled products helps keep Minnesota's lakes and rivers clean. Manufacturing products from recycled materials generates significantly less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin (new) materials. Manufacturing recycled white office paper creates 74% less air pollutants and 35% less water pollutants than making it from virgin (new) wood pulp.

Where can I recycle? 

Take advantage of all of the recycling opportunities available to you, from curbside collection and office recycling to away-from-home programs like collection bins at grocery stores, gas stations, parks and other public areas.

Recycling varies from county to county.