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Recycling in Zion National Park

Why Does Zion Recycle?

There are many reasons to recycle, but the short list includes:

  • It saves money.
  • It improves efficiency.
  • It reduces energy use.
  • It reduces water use.
  • It saves landfill space.
  • It improves air quality.
  • It improves water quality.
  • It reduces the rate of global warming.

How much American’s throw away

  • Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, but generate 30% of the world’s garbage.
  • In sum, Americans waste or cause to be wasted nearly 1 million pounds of materials per person every year. This figure includes 3.5 billion pounds of carpet landfilled, 3.3 trillion pounds of CO2 gas emitted into the atmosphere, 19 billion pounds of polystyrene peanuts,
    28 billion pounds of food discarded,
    360 billion pounds of organic and inorganic chemicals used for manufacturing, 710 billion pounds of hazardous waste and 3.7 trillion pounds of construction debris.
  • For all the world to live as an American we would need five addtional planet Earths.

To put it another way…
Americans throw away enough garbage everyday to fill 63,000 garbage trucks, which if lined up end to end for an entire year would stretch half way to the moon.

  • Of the garbage Americans throw out, half could be recycled, which is enough to fill a football stadium from top to bottom everyday.
  • Of these recyclables, Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild the entire commercial air fleet every three months, enough steel to reconstruct Manhattan, and enough wood to heat 5 million homes for 200 years.
  • U.S. waste disposal costs exceed $100 billion annually.

The good news

  • In 1999, recycling and composting activities prevented about 64 million tons of material from ending up in landfills and incinerators. Today, this country recycles 32 percent of its waste, a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years.
  • While recycling has grown in general, recycling of specific materials has grown even more drastically: 50 percent of all paper, 34 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles, 45 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans, 63 percent of all steel packaging, and 67 percent of all major appliances are now recycled.
  • Twenty years ago, only one curbside recycling program existed in the United States, which collected several materials at the curb. By 2005, almost 9,000 curbside programs had sprouted up across the nation. As of 2005, about 500 materials recovery facilities had been established to process the collected materials.
  • The U.S. EPA estimates that our current recycling efforts saves 1.48 quadrillion BTU (Equivalent to (1.9 billion gallons of gas!)

Helping at Home- We’re All Connected
(Saves you $'s and everyone's resources!)

  • Consider going beyond recycling by reducing and reusing wherever possible
  • If you’re not already recycling and composting, consider joining the fun!
  • If no recycling is available, or needs to be expanded on, consider becoming involved in making it happen!
  • Buy products made from recycled materials
  • Compost yard/garden wastes to use as mulch and fertilizer

For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/non-hw/muncpl/recycle.htm

Recent Recycling data for Zion & Xanterra (partial year - 2006)

Aluminum/tin: 4800 lbs
Plastic: 12,000 lbs
Cardboard: 49,000 lbs
Paper: 12,000 lbs
Glass: 25,220 lbs
Compost (Xanterra): 9000 lbs

Effective management of this waste requires a comprehensive program of awareness, education, action, and commitment to continual improvement. Reducing waste by not generating it in the first place is the primary goal of Xanterra’s and the Park’s waste management program.

The company goes one step further by integrating the concept of “rethink” into waste management. This not only means, as renowned sustainability guru William McDonough suggests, “dematerializing”—using products with less material in them—to reduce waste generation, but also using “ecologically intelligent” materials. These are either “biological nutrients” (biodegradable elements that degrade safely back into the earth’s biosphere) or “technical nutrients” (materials that are returned to the industrial processes from which they are derived.

Waste generation declined 17.5 percent, and recycling and diversion increased 129 percent in the last five years. Changes in data from Xanterra’s 2003 Sustain- ability Report are attributed to improved tracking methodologies.

The company’s most significant solid waste trends include: a 241 percent increase in waste diverted per room night (attributed to increased in-room recycling and guest awareness); and a 229 percent increase in diversion rates.

Zion Lodge composts all of its food wastes, lawn clippings, and shredded paper. The composting technology chosen was the Green Mountain Technologies Earth Tub. The Earth Tub is designed specifically for on-site composting of food wastes. It is a fully enclosed composting vessel featuring power mixing, compost aeration, and the biofiltration of all process air (to keep odors down). Zion’s two Earth Tubs process more than 200 pounds of kitchen food waste per day. Waste diverted from the landfill is estimated at 55,000 pounds per year. Zion Lodge now exceeds the Department of Interior’s goal of a 45 percent diversion rate from landfills. Mount Rushmore began using an Earth Tub in 2005. The remote Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon continues to compost on site more than 25,000 pounds of biodegradable waste annually.

Learn more about "Eating for a healthy planet"

Facts about Recycling…


One ton of recycled Aluminum saves:

  • 14,000 kWh of electricity.
  • 1,663 gallons of oil.
  • 237.6 million Btu’s of energy.
  • 10 cubic yards of landfill space.

Aluminum takes 200-500 years to fully degrade in a landfill.

Recycling aluminum takes 95% less energy than making aluminum from raw materials.

Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours.

There is no limit to the number of times aluminum cans be recycled.

Recycled aluminum can be returned to store shelves in as little as 60 days.

About 120,000 aluminum cans are recycled every minute nationwide.

One ton of recycled glass saves:

  • 42 kWh of electricity.
  • 5 gallons of oil.
  • 714.3 Btu’s of energy.
  • Glass takes 1,000,000 years to fully degrade in a landfill.
  • Recycling glass takes 30% of the energy required to produce glass from raw materials.
  • The United States throws away enough glass every week to fill a 1,350-foot building.
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt lightbulb for four hours.
  • Glass never wears out and can be recycled forever.

Plastic takes up to 1,000 years to degrade in a landfill.

  • Recycling plastic takes 88% less energy than making plastic from raw materials.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles every year.
  • Only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled.
  • If we recycled the other 75% we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space annually.
  • Using aluminum or glass containers is always preferable over plastic.
  • A plastic bottle of drinking water contains on average 4 cents worth of water.
  • By using reusable drink containers an average person can eliminate the need for 100 disposable bottles per year.

One ton of recycled paper saves:

  • 4,100 kWh of electricity.
  • 380 gallons of oil.
  • 54 million Btu’s of energy.
  • 4.6 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • 7,000 gallons of water.
  • 17 trees

Recycling paper takes 60% less energy than making paper form raw materials.

It also creates 74% less air pollution and 35% less water pollution.

Americans throw away 4.5 million tons of office paper each year.

That’s enough to build a wall of paper 12 feet high from New York to Los Angeles.

Every Sunday, 500,000 trees are used to produce the 88% of newspapers that are never recycled.


  • About 70% of all metal is used just once, then discarded. The remaining 30% is recycled, but after 5-cycles only 0.25% remains in circulation.
  • The United States throws away enough iron and steel to continuously supply all of the nation’s automakers.
  • Tin cans are made up mostly of steel, containing only about 0.15% tin and are 100% recyclable.

Did You Know?

Temples and Towers

The Zion National Park webcam shows the famous Temples and Towers of the Virgin as seen from park headquarters. More...