Why use milk dispensers, cartons are recyclable, right?

There's more and more talk of school cafeterias providing milk from dispensers. Kids fill washable, reusable cups rather than drinking milk from a carton. So no more cartons, but – cartons are recyclable, right? Recycling is just as good as reusing, isn't it? 

Not really and here's why.

It's true that cartons are recyclable in Clark County. The problem with recycling the cartons used in schools is that they are so small that they don't all make it through to the sort line to be sorted into their own pile for recycling. They slip through the sorting screens and end up on the garbage floor; then they go to the landfill. Bigger cartons, like those that we use at home do make it to the sort line, so they are easier to recycle.

Let's also think about the recycling process, because lots of times we think that recycling is just as good as reusing. When you reuse something, you can use it over and over again and the only energy it takes is the energy to wash it. Recycling uses a whole lot of energy. It needs people power, gasoline for recycle trucks and electricity to run the machines.

Think of the energy used. Check out the slideshow below...

And that's what it takes just to dispose of the cartons. Think back to when the carton was first manufactured. We need to consider all of the resources (trees, oil and more), people power and energy used to run the machines that produce these cartons in the first place.

We use a milk carton only once, just for a few minutes, and then it becomes waste. Wouldn't it be better to drink milk from something you can use over and over again? In long-term sustainability planning, reusable items may well be the way to go, as it vastly reduces waste generated versus disposable, recyclable items. 

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