When a new, usable product is made, obtaining and handling raw resources to make these products requires a lot of energy. So, making a product from scratch can be expensive and very labor-intensive.

On the other hand, manufacturers can make the same products with less energy and expense when creating products with recycled material.

In this article, we will examine a variety of ways in which recycling can save energy. We will answer the questions, “How does recycling help save energy?” and “Why does recycling save energy?”

Table of Contents

●     Does Recycling Save Energy?

●     How Does Recycling Save Energy?

●     How Much Energy Does Recycling Save?

●     Does Recycling Contribute to the Conservation of Different Types of Energy?

●     Does Recycling Help Save Natural Gas?

●     Does Recycling Help Save Electricity?

●     Does Recycling Contribute to Solar Energy?

●     Does Recycling Contribute to Wind Energy?

●     Gexa Energy Offers Multiple 100% Renewable Plan Options to Help You Save Electricity.

Does Recycling Save Energy?

The short answer is yes. Recycling typically saves energy because recycled products require much less processing to turn them into usable materials – which conserves energy.

The extent of energy saved depends on the material being recycled; however, almost all recycling operations result in energy savings.

For example, in 2014, over 89 million tons of community waste (such as food, plants, boxes, etc.) was recycled in the United States. This saved over 322,000 gigawatts of energy – enough to provide electricity to 30 million homes.

How Does Recycling Save Energy?

Manufacturing is a labor, waste, and energy-intensive process. Moreover, because of the increasing demand for consumer products, it is a never-ending process.

When products are manufactured from scratch, the raw materials need to be obtained, transferred, and refined. But, when using recycled products, you use already refined materials that will require less energy to be transformed into a new and different usable product.

How Much Energy Does Recycling Save?

To estimate how much energy can be saved by recycling different products, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed the individual Waste Reduction Model (iWARM) tool.

This tool calculates what quantity of energy is saved by recycling:

●     Aluminum cans

●     Glass or plastic bottles

●     Magazines

●     Plastic grocery bags

In addition, the iWARM results show how long the savings could power different electrical appliances.  

How Does Recycling Aluminum Save Energy?

Did you know recycling aluminum saves more energy than other recycled materials? Aluminum is a 100% recyclable metal, and the aluminum recycling process is fast and efficient.

We save more than 90 percent of the energy needed to make new aluminum when we recycle aluminum. What’s more, we waste as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume in gasoline by throwing away an aluminum can.

Just by recycling one aluminum soda can, we can save enough energy to power:

●     A 14 watt CFL bulb for 20 hours

●     A computer for 3 hours

●     A TV for 2 hours                     

More examples of how recycling aluminum saves energy:

●     One pound of recycled aluminum (which is around 33 cans) saves about 7 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

●     One ton of recycled aluminum saves around 40 oil barrels which are equivalent to 14,000 kilowatt-hours of energy.

If we recycled all the aluminum already made, there would be virtually no need to bring new aluminum materials into the production cycle – which would save an incredible amount of energy. 

How Does Recycling Plastic Save Energy?

Over the years, the use of plastic has increased. As a result, plastic has become a large part of our country’s municipal solid waste. In 1960, plastic was less than one percent of this waste; in 2018, it was 12 percent.

Not only does recycling plastic save landfill space, but it also saves energy.

Manufacturing plastic items from recycled plastics decreases energy needs by 66 percent.

One ton of recycled plastic saves:

●     5,774 Kilowatt-hours of energy

●     30.4 cubic yards of landfill space

●     1,000 to 2,000 gallons of gasoline

●     Around 16 barrels of oil

Recycling plastics reduces the amount of energy and resources (such as water, petroleum, natural gas, and coal) needed to create other plastics. So when we do our part by recycling plastic, it saves energy and keeps more plastic out of our landfills.

How Does Recycling Paper Save Energy?

It’s been estimated that the average office worker uses about 10,000 pieces of copy paper annually. It’s also been estimated that most households throw away 13,000 pieces of paper in a year. This leads to overloaded landfills and wasted energy.

Paper is made of wood fibers and is a 100% natural, recyclable source. When paper is recycled, it can be used as many as six times, saving on the amount of new wood pulp that must be processed.

Recycled paper also leads to the following benefits:

●     Producing recycled paper requires approximately 60% of the energy used to make new paper from fresh wood pulp.

●     Manufacturing one ton of office paper with recycled paper saves 3,000 to 4,000 kilowatt-hours compared with the same amount of paper made with fresh wood pulp.

●     Every 2,000 pounds of paper that are recycled saves 17 mature trees.

When we do not recycle our paper, it goes straight to a landfill. The EPA indicates landfills as the single largest source of methane emissions to the atmosphere and it has identified the decomposition of paper as among the most significant sources of landfill methane.

How Does Recycling Glass Save Energy?

Making glass requires a great deal of energy, and it involves melting sand and other minerals at extremely high temperatures. Recycling glass also requires a great deal of power; however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that recycling glass results in 30% energy savings.

Here are a couple of interesting facts about recycled glass:

●      A 100-watt light bulb can be lit for four hours just by recycling one glass bottle.

●      Glass is one hundred percent recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without altering purity or quality.

Recycling glass bottles helps to save energy that might be spent on producing new bottles. The used bottles are crushed and melted and then processed to make new products. This helps to save a considerable amount of energy in the form of oil and coal.

Since it takes one million years for a glass bottle to break down at the landfill, and since it conserves energy, recycling glass is a smart choice.

How Does Recycling Steel Save Energy?

Steel is another popular material to recycle. More steel is recycled annually than aluminum, glass, paper, and plastic combined. It is easy and economical to separate from other discarded materials, and it can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing any strength.

Something most of us have in our home, tin cans, contains 99% steel. 60-74% of the energy used to produce steel from raw materials can be saved by recycling steel. In addition, when using scrap metal instead of raw materials to produce steel, carbon emissions are reduced by 58%.

When one ton of steel is recycled, it saves the energy equivalent of:

●      3.6 barrels of oil

●      1.49 tons of iron ore

●      10.9 billion BTUs of energy

The Steel Recycling Institute reports that steel recycling in America saves the energy equivalent of about one-fifth of American households for one year.

Does Recycling Contribute to the Conservation of Different Types of Energy?

Yes, it does. If we increase the supply of renewable energy, the US can replace carbon-intensive energy sources. This leads to significantly reduced global warming emissions.

When we recycle, we are providing resources for new products to be made from recycled materials. Making these new products from recycled materials helps save energy and precious natural resources.

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Does Recycling Help Save Natural Gas?

When we recycle products that require natural gas to produce, our dependence on natural gas decreases. For example, we can help reduce our dependency on natural gas by recycling our waste, such as …

●     Paper

●     Plastics; and

●     Aluminum

…  instead of sending it to a landfill.

We could also donate working household items (i.e., microwaves, toasters, blenders) and clothes that no longer fit to a favorite charity or thrift shop.  

Does Recycling Help Save Electricity?

Yes, electricity can be saved by recycling. Manufacturers can make the same products with less electricity and expense when they use recycled materials instead of using raw resources.

Regardless of which product you’re producing (aluminum, steel, paper, etc.), it’s highly labor-intensive and energy-intensive to extract, transport, and refine the raw resources that go into producing materials from scratch.

Recycled materials have been refined and processed one time. When processed a second time, manufacturing is much less electricity-intensive.

Using recycled materials instead of using raw materials from scratch can use up to 30% less electricity.

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Does Recycling Contribute to Solar Energy?

Solar energy growth rates keep increasing every year across the world. It is the fastest growing and most affordable energy source available.

Solar panels are made of solar cells, silicon, metal, and glass and cannot be constructed with recycled parts. It is also difficult to recycle old solar panels.

Even based on these facts it has been proven that solar energy can help reduce our reliance on other energy sources. 

Does Recycling Contribute to Wind Energy?

Wind turbines can generate electricity with lower carbon dioxide emissions than a typical power plant. Therefore, they are considered a clean and sustainable source of power, but they do produce a lot of waste.


Even though waste is produced, “energy payback” times for windmill manufacturing are short because recycled steel can create new turbine parts, which requires less energy in the manufacturing process.

Gexa Energy Offers Multiple 100% Renewable Plan Options to Help You Save Electricity

There is no electricity plan that is perfect for everyone; that’s the reason Gexa gives you a choice to select the plan that works best for you.

●     Usage plans – Based on your electricity usage, select the plan that works best for you.

●     Flexible plans – The Gexa Flex plan lets you ease into your relationship with no long-term commitment or early termination fees.

You can also enjoy peace of mind with our Happiness Guarantee*. If you’re not satisfied, simply switch Gexa residential plans within 60 days, and we’ll waive the early cancellation fee on your original plan.

What are you waiting for? Contact us today for 100% green plans for your home.





Gexa Energy purchases renewable energy credits (RECs) from renewable generation resources throughout North America to match 100% of the energy sold under your electric plan.  The RECs Gexa purchases represent the renewable attributes of power generated from a variety of renewable energy sources, including, but not limited to, the sun, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, wave or tidal energy, and biomass or biomass-based waste products, including landfill gas. 

* Happiness Guarantee - If you’re not happy with your new Gexa Energy residential plan, just call us within 60 days of your service activation date, change to another available Gexa Energy plan, and we’ll waive the early cancellation fee on your first plan; applies one time only for new Gexa Energy residential customers. Your contract term will restart with your second plan. Offer subject to change or withdrawal prior to customer acceptance.


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