Originally published Nov. 14, 2011
Recycling is vital to economic prosperity and quality of life. Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) staff, while at work and at home, can help sustain the environment simply through recycling and using recycled products. Join the crowd and be a DPH Greenie.
"We all have to do our part to help protect the planet and recycling is one of the easiest ways to start,” said Leslie Freymann, Program Consultant with the Environmental Health Branch. “As a representative of Public Health, I try to lead by example, to create a healthier environment for all Georgians - one piece of paper at a time. My wish is that everyone prints only when necessary, re-uses paper and/or prints double-sided whenever possible, and always recycles - both the paper and ink cartridges. It's the right thing to do."
DPH recognizes our role in creating a more sustainable state. With sponsorship from our Environmental Health Branch, DPH staff is involved in planning and implementing economical recycling initiatives to help staff reduce their environmental footprint. Not only will these initiatives reduce waste and save dollars, but staff will feel good about their contributions to the well-being of the agency as well as to the planet!
Recycle Paper: Did you know?
Paper products make up the largest portion of the municipal solid waste stream in the United States and, as a result, offer the greatest opportunity to recycle.
- Paper and paperboard products account for about 30% of all materials in landfills.
- If every American recycled one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save about 25 million trees a year.
- We recycle about 50% of all the paper that Americans use. And by 2012, the paper industry hopes to recover 60% of the paper Americans will use.
- Nearly 80% of America's paper mills use recovered fiber to make some or all of their products.
What’s the answer? Paper or plastic?
While arguments are made that paper plates and cups are more biodegradable and eco-friendly than plastic, they come from cutting down trees. Each tree that is cut down to make paper products releases all the carbon dioxide stored in it, which is more than the amount of carbon dioxide released by the fuel it takes to create plastic for the same number of products.
Therefore, while making and washing plates, cups, and utensils uses water and energy, it is still more eco-friendly than using disposable products. In comparison, more water and energy are used to make paper and plastic, and to transport and store them in a landfill for hundreds of years.
Recycle cartridges: Did you know?
Approximately 90 percent of toner and printer cartridges are recyclable, but only 20 percent are being recycled. Refilling and recycling ink cartridges provide a huge commercial as well as environmental benefit.
- It takes more than two pints of oil to create a new toner cartridge shell.
- More than 500 million new toner and inkjet cartridges are manufactured every year.
- It takes over 1000 years for a cartridge to decompose in a landfill.
- More than 300 million printer cartridges end up in our landfills each year.
What can DPH recycle?
DPH employees can conserve resources, protect the environment, and save money simply by bringing their used copy machine toner and printer cartridges to the Environmental Health Branch for recycling. “Since last November, 2 Peachtree Street employees have recycled over 500 cartridges,” said Onyinye Edeh, Environmental Health intern. “Any ink cartridge can be recycled.”
Recycled, refilled and resold ink-jet cartridges cost on average 30 percent less than new cartridges. That's a major cost savings for an agency that may go through thousands of cartridges a year. Just think of the money we can save!
In the future, consider purchasing items that protect the environment and save money: office supplies, furniture, and equipment that are made from recycled or earth friendly materials; rechargeable batteries; coffee cups, stirrers, and napkins that are recyclable or earth friendly; CD/DVDs, cameras, DVD and MP3 players, televisions, telephones, and computers. Visit earth911.org to find recyclers in your area.