7 Benefits of plastic and metal recycling

After reviewing the importance of plastic and metal lets put some data and precise benefits of the it’s recycling process, as we saw for the papel and glass recycling:


Here’s a summary of the main benefits of recycling plastics and metals:

  1. Energy saving: Production using recycled packaging represents an 84% energy[1] saving in plastics, 95% in aluminum cans and 75% in steel cans, compared to the energy needed for production from virgin materials.
  2. Reduction in need for raw material: For every ton of recycled plastic containers around 1 ton of oil[2] is saved. For every ton of recycled aluminum, you save 6 tons of bauxite (element from which aluminum is made)
  3. Savings in resources: All of the packaging recycled could supply the plastic manufacturing industry with almost 9% of the resources[3] that it needs
  4. Improving air quality by reducing pollution: Aluminum recycling represents a reduction in emissions[4] of 9.8 tons of CO2 and 64kg SO2
  5. Savings in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  6. Less waste is sent to landfill or for incineration


Plastic and metal recycling saves a lot of energy, reduces the consumption of resources (oil) and GHG emissions as well as improving the air quality

For 1 ton of packaging, and every year we generate more:

  • You save 1 ton of oil (from one ton of plastic packaging)
  • From PET bottles there’s a net benefit in greenhouse gases of 1.5 tons of CO2 equivalent[5]
  • Recycling 1 ton of aluminum saves 6 tons of bauxite, 4 tons of chemical products and 14,000 kWh of electricity[6]
  • Recycling 1 aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for 3 hours[7]
  • Recycling 1 PET plastic bottle saves enough energy to run a TV for 20 minutes[8]
  • Recycling 40 bottles of water (PET) can make a polar fleece[9]
  • Recycling 80 cans of soda can make a bicycle tire[10]

Want to know more?

 The book Stop garbage. The truth about recycling, Alex Pascual, February 2019

► Packaging that leaves a mark “Envases que dejan huella,” Escarabajo verde program, RTVE (CAST)


i History of a can (CAST)

i Information about the DRS system (Deposit Refund System) (ENG /CAST)



i Plastics Europe web (ENG)


i The most common types of plastics (ENG)


[1]. Annual report 2013 Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Spanish Government. And alsoBureau of International Recycling
[2]. Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Spanish Government.
[3]. Prevention and waste management general program, Catalonia 2013-2020
[4]. Study on the recovery of aluminum, Arpal, (Association for aluminum products recycling), 2013
[5]. “Life out of plastic”
[6]. Metals – aluminium and steel recycling. en wasteonline.org.uk.
[7]. Ibidem
[8]. “Why it’s a good idea to pay attention to the plastic you buy,” La Vanguardia 18 February 2016
[9]. Ecoembes, Equivalence and data, http://www.ecoembes.es
[10]. Ibidem

Plastic picture by Mr.TinDC and cans picture by Ruth Hartnup

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  1. Pingback: Recycling is cheaper than not recycling – Stop Garbage

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