Recycling is an old habbit

I remember being in school and learning about the 3Rs: Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. I was so fascinated with the concept that I even “forced” my parents to start separating the garbadge in our house.

Recycling quickly became a habit across multiple countries but one question I never got an answer to is:

How much CO2 can you save by recycling?

Finally, here is the answer…

How much CO2 can you save by recycling?

Everyone has waste coming from food containers, packaging, and used paper, but properly recycling these materials can save carbon emissions.

Recycling avoids the greenhouse gas emissions caused by recovering and manufacturing these materials.

You could save up to 61kg of carbon emissions per month by recycling as much as possible

However, saving on these emissions is only optimised when recycled accurately.

Always check the label and/or symbol on plastics to ensure you are recycling the right materials in the right place. Materials cannot be infinitely recycled, so reducing is always better than recycling.

How did we reach the 61kg number?

The Average American has around 38kg of trash each month that comes from packaging.

Paper, glass, plastic, metals and card have different amounts of carbon saving per kg recycled.

Only 10% of plastic is recyclable, whilst almost 100% of the other materials are.

Based on the average ratio of waste materials, we can calculate that 61kg of carbon can be saved by recycling, most of which comes from recycling metals like aluminium cans and foil as these use the most carbon emissions to source and manufacture.

From those 38kg of garbage:

  • 46% or 17.48kg is paper

  • 8.4% or 3.19 is Glass

  • 24% or 9.12kg is Plastic (from those only 10% are recyclable = 0.9kg)

  • 16.6% or 6.3kg are Metals

  • 5% or 1.9kg is Card

C02 savings per kg:

  • Paper: 0.46kg of CO2

  • Glass: 0.31kg of CO2

  • Plastic: 1.08kg of CO2

  • Metals: 8.14kg of CO2

  • Card: 0.12kg of CO2

Finally summing all up we get:

17.48kg * 0.46kg + 3.19kg * 0.31kg + 0.9kg * 1.08kg + 6.3kg * 8.14kg + 1.9kg * 0.12kg = 61kg of CO2 saved


When properly done recycling (specially non plastic material) has an important part on reducing our the CO2 emissions.

However, there are many other action that we can take to reduce our footprint and fight climate change.

Our app Changeit gives you simple actions that you can take now to start fighting climate change. We also help you commit to those actions with relevant notifications.

Let’s Changeit!

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