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Climate change, recycling and waste prevention from King County’s Solid Waste Division

Climate change, recycling and waste prevention

How much climate change is in your trash?

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Using a disposable water bottle a day for a year results in the same climate pollution as driving 147 miles. Choose reusable. Waste less. Learn how.

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The average American tosses out 290 pounds of food each year 25% of what they buy. This results in the same climate pollution as driving 876 miles (Seattle to San Francisco). Save the Food. Waste Less. Learn how.

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If you throw away even half the paper you use in a year instead of recycling it, you increase your climate pollution by the same amount as driving 526 miles. Recycle More. Waste Less. Learn how Download PDF .


Recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption. Using recycled materials to make new products reduces the need for virgin materials. This avoids greenhouse gas emissions that would result from extracting or mining virgin materials. In addition, manufacturing products from recycled materials typically requires less energy than making products from virgin materials.

Waste prevention and smart shopping are even more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions that result from energy consumption. When we buy less or reuse products, less energy is needed to extract, transport and process materials to manufacture products. Purchasing products made from recycled materials, such as paper, plastics, and metal, instead of virgin materials also helps to reduce energy consumption. In addition, waste prevention and recycling paper products allows more trees to remain standing, where they can continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Here's an example of how recycling makes a difference:

Download PDF 366 K recycling makes a difference (PDF)
King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal

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