Why should we recycle in Sioux Falls?
Burying or burning trash may seem like an easier option in the short term, but the savings that come from recycling are long term.
The 3 E’s
- Saves Tax Dollars: By reducing the amount of waste we send to landfills, recycling saves landfill space, which ultimately saves tax dollars. At the Sioux Falls Landfill, it takes each cell an average of 7-8 years to fill up. The current landfill site has room for a total of 10 cells. As of 2022, we are on cell #3, which will be full by next year (2023). The cost to build just one landfill cell is estimated at $6.5 million, with the additional ongoing maintenance and closure costs continuing to rise.
- Supports Local Business: By recycling in our community, particularly in the Sioux Falls area, we are directly supporting local businesses like area waste haulers, recovery facilities like Millennium, and regional processors who turn the material into new products. In 2021, the economic impact in South Dakota alone from the scrap recycling industry was almost $290 million.
- Creates Local Jobs: Recycling also generates jobs, as many as 30 times more than landfills and incinerators combined! With positions ranging from material sorting, dispatchers, truck drivers, public education, maintenance, brokers, sales representatives, process engineers, and chemists, there are MANY different types of jobs being created. As a local employer, Millennium employs over 30 full-time team members in our community and will continue providing these critical jobs for years to come.
- Recovers Raw Materials: The most important benefit of recycling is recovering the raw materials we use. It takes a lot of energy and water to extract and refine virgin materials from the earth. When things are dumped in the landfill, the energy used to make them is lost. Although some energy can be recovered from capturing methane gas or waste incineration, using recycled materials to make new products takes significantly less energy than either of these options, even after accounting for recycling collection, processing and transportation.
- Saves Energy: Recycling aluminum uses 95% less energy than using virgin material. One ton of recycled paper uses 64% less energy than from virgin wood pulp. Steel and tin cans save 60-74% of the energy used to produce them from raw materials. Recycled plastic uses only two-thirds of the energy compared to raw materials. And producing glass from silica mining requires 30% more energy than from crushed, recycled glass.
- Conserves Natural Resources: From a sustainability point of view, recycling has great value. The simple choice to recycle reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators, allowing us to conserve natural resources by extracting less from the earth and protect natural habitats and resources, such as trees, oil, water and metals.
- Reduces Landfill Dependency: Across the US, landfills are piling up at an exeedingly alarming rate. Critics argue that we aren’t running out of landfill space any time soon, and there’s nothing wrong with burying it all, but people don’t want to live near landfills. Rotting waste produces methane gas and a mixture of chemicals and liquids called leachate. If not properly contained and or treated, this leads to air pollution and can slowly seep into groundwater used for crops and tap water, causing serious health risks. According to the EPA, even modern landfills with new clay and plastic liners will ultimately fail. By recycling, we can save our land for more sustainable use.
- Reduces Pollution and Carbon Emissions: Creating and consuming new products equates to extracting resources — like fossil fuels — for industrial manufacturing, transportation and product packaging. Recycling reduces the generation of carbon.Incinerators are not a perfect solution either, as they release heavy metals and toxic chemicals into the air. It’s very difficult to justify building a new landfill or incinerator when we could be preventing the need for them by recycling.
By recycling, we play a part in giving future generations a chance to live well.