America Recycles Day

Since 1997, communities across our country have come together on November 15th to observe America Recycles Day and share in their commitment to recycling. I want to say thank you to all who have worked hard to make today America Recycles Day, and to those who work hard to make recycling a reality in our country every day.

As the co-chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus, I have been a big fan of recycling for many, many years and so this day holds a special meaning to me. This is why Senator Snowe and I introduced a resolution today commemorating America Recycles Day and the inception of a recycling program on the National Mall.

When I was a young boy growing up in Virginia, I was a Boy Scout. One of the Boy Scout mottos -- "leave no trace" -- has really stuck with me over the years. I believe that we have a responsibility to be stewards of our environment and to leave our environment in better shape than the way we found it.

In the years that I have served in public office, recycling has always been a top priority for me, and a true passion. I love recycling because it helps us preserve our limited resources, reduce our landfill input, and it also create jobs. For a small state like Delaware, recycling is particularly important because of the limited space our state has for landfills.

Today, we see that our resources -financial and natural- have been stretched, and stretched in some instances to their limits. We need solutions to managing our resources that are win-wins for our economy and our environment. Recycling is one of these win-win solutions. The recycling and remanufacturing industries account for over one million jobs in the United States and over $236 billion in annual revenue. Recycling also saves energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Through recycling activities alone, we can reduce the amount of harmful emissions we put into the air by as much as 5 percent!

The U.S. has made progress in recycling, but we can do a lot better. We recycle only about 33 percent of our waste, which is quite low compared with other industrialized countries. We recycle only about seven percent of our plastic and 21 percent of our glass and aluminum. In fact, we throw away enough aluminum cans every month to completely rebuild our country's commercial air fleet. If all of us here in the U.S. increased by just 10 percent the amount that we recycled, we could conserve enough energy to heat 7.5 million homes, which would provide electricity to 2.5 million Americans, nearly three times as many residents as we have in the state of Delaware.

Today, on America Recycles Day, I invite you all to join me in making recycling a part of your daily routine. On this day, we have much to celebrate, but we also have much more work to do. And as I've said many times, if it isn't perfect, make it better! Together, our small actions can have a real impact.

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