Who Profits From Recycling
Recycling In America: More Than Just A Feel Good Experience
Recycling leads to far more than entitled consumerism, when done right it is capable of producing significant results. Given the gravity of the environmental crises we face, it is very easy to be cynical about small scale activities like recycling, but even these small gestures, if repeated often enough, can amount to major savings for the planet. Recycling minimizes landfills which emit global warming causing methane.
In the U.S. there is one day per year when recycling is recognized as part of a national event. November 15 is America Recycles Day (ARD), a day to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling. This event was started by the National Recycling Coalition in 1997.
ARD has helped millions of Americans become better informed about the importance of recycling and buying products made from recycled materials. Through ARD, the National Recycling Coalition helps volunteer coordinators organize events in hundreds of communities nationwide to raise awareness and educate people about the benefits of recycling.
Waste and Recycling
Events like ARD are important because the U.S. has dreadfully low recycling rates. In 2008, only 7.1 percent of the 30.05 million tons of plastic waste in America was recycled. Compare this to the plastics recycling rate of around 70 percent found in leading countries such as Germany and Japan.
Although well behind many other countries, overall recycling rates in America have doubled in the past decade. There are over 9,000 curbside recycling programs throughout the US, which has steadily increased since the 1970s. Although Americans are recycling more than ever, they still have a long way to go.
Even though studies show that 81 percent of Americans agree that recycling is an important service, recycling efforts in the U.S. lag far behind their potential. Americans generate 30 percent of the world’s garbage, only one third (33.8 percent) of total waste is recycled, and only about half (53.4 percent) of all paper products are recycled.
Despite relatively low rates of recycling in the U.S., there is a global demand for recycled materials. Countries like China have demonstrated that there is a market for America’s recyclables. It is estimated that 76 percent of California’s polyethylene terephthalate (PET, the dynamic material found in beverage containers) is exported to China and converted into a variety of products which are then sold back to U.S. buyers.
Value of Recycling
As revealed in a UNEP report, a relatively modest investment could radically increase recycling rates. According to the report, an investment of $108 million in the global waste sector annually could increase recycling rates threefold by 2050 and reduce landfill contents by more than 85 percent.
Recycling offers tremendous savings. According to the EPA, recycling one ton of aluminum cans saves the energy equivalent of 36 barrels of oil or 1,655 gallons of gasoline. A single aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours. By recycling aluminum cans, 95 percent of the energy can be saved, compared with manufacturing a new one. Despite these startling statistics, the National Recycling Coalition reports that every three months, Americans discard enough aluminum into landfills to rebuild the entire U.S. fleet of commercial airplanes.
When it comes to paper, 4,100 kilowatts of electricity and 7,000 gallon of water are saved for every ton of paper recycled. And using recycled glass consumes 40 percent less energy than using new materials.
The amount of energy saved from recycling aluminum and steel cans, plastic PET and glass containers, newsprint and corrugated packaging was equivalent to the amount of electricity consumed by 17.8 million Americans in one year or 11 percent of the energy produced by coal-fired power plants in the United States.
Laws and Regulations
There is no national law that mandates recycling in the U.S., although many state and local governments have introduced recycling requirements like laws that establish deposits or refund values on beverage containers. Other jurisdictions rely on recycling goals or landfill bans of recyclable materials. Some cities enforce fines upon citizens who throw away certain recyclable materials.
On a national level, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees a variety of waste issues. These include regulation of hazardous wastes, landfill regulations, and setting recycling goals. More specific recycling legislation is localized through city or state governments. Landfill bans make it illegal to dispose of certain items in a landfill while other states focus on recycling goals.
Electronic waste in the U.S. is being addressed with regulations at a state and federal level. Ninety percent of US e-waste is exported to China and Nigeria.
Some corporations are providing electronic takeback and recycling programs. Takeback programs offer low-cost to no-cost recycling, some even provide monetary incentives for recycling. In one way or another, many companies are getting involved with recycling programs.
Dell, Sprint and Sony have agreed to help the Environmental Protection Agency encourage certified electronics recycling, as part of the Obama administration’s national strategy to encourage better e-waste management.
Target rolled out a massive nationwide recycling initiative with centers at the front of each of its 1,740 U.S. stores. The recycling stations accept aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers, plastic bags, MP3 players, cell phones and ink cartridges.
A review of the beverage industry, titled “Waste & Opportunity: U.S. Beverage Container Recycling Scorecard and Report” by the shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, gave Nestlé Waters North America the highest rank out of the major companies. In particular, the firm received the highest score on container recovery for establishing better recovery goals than its peers and having stated tactical strategies for attaining those goals.
Companies are also contributing to recycling education including award-winning Recology, a San Francisco-based resource recovery company.
Under the EPA strategy called the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship (pdf), the federal government’s purchasing arm will only buy IT products that comply with environmental performance standards, and will ensure that all government electronics are reused or recycled properly.
The strategy also commits the federal government to promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products; support recycling options and systems for American consumers; and strengthen America’s role in the international electronics stewardship arena.
San Francisco’s recycling program has a zero waste goal by 2020 and in 2009, they were already at a 78 percent diversion rate. While programs like this are not yet widespread, their success proves curbside recycling does not always result in a market failure.
Sanford, a town of 21,000 in southwest Maine has tripled recycling rates while reducing expenses 50%. The town implemented a trash metering system that requires residents to pay by the bag for curbside collection. According to projections, this will save the town about a quarter of a million dollars in garbage tipping fees.
Over 150 municipalities in Maine and many other towns and cities across the U.S. are employing a trash metering system. WasteZero is one such program, they work with about 300 cities to transform their waste management systems. This has had the dual effect of reducing their landfill waste about 43%, while collectively netting about $65 million in avoided disposal fees or revenues from recycled materials.
Economic Incentives and Jobs
Powerful economic incentives are not the only reason to recycle. Recycling reduces costs to businesses and creates jobs. The American recycling industry is a $200 billion dollar enterprise that includes more than 50,000 recycling establishments; it employs more than 1 million people, and generates an annual payroll of approximately $37 billion.
As early as 2003, cities like Fort Worth Texas were making millions from their recycling program. Similarly, by 2004, Waukesha County Wisconsin was operating recycling programs at a profit.
Obstacles in the way of wider adoption of recycling practices commonly relate to a lack of coordination between design and recovery. This is a major obstacle in creating closed loop recycling systems for materials.
It is helpful to consult technical guidance on designing packaging to be compatible with common recovery methods. The non-profit organization GreenBlue has developed design for recovery guidelines. These guidelines apply to the design and recycling of aluminum, steel, glass, and paper.
The logic of recycling is overwhelming; it can earn revenues, prevent greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy consumption. Brazil’s recycling efforts are a $2 billion a year industry that avoids 10 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. If America’s recycling rate doubled the country would save enough energy to supply the electricity needs of 36 million Americans for an entire year.
Recycling is about more than simply feeling good about yourself, recycling is about contributing to an effort that can make a real difference.
Reasons to Start Recycling
There are many Reasons to Start Recycling. Gone are the days when recycling was looked upon as a hippy fad. With recycling bins now being provided by the local council, the process of sorting out old materials to turn into new goods is officially mainstream – and about time too.
If there was ever a simple solution to protecting the environment and promoting a sustainable future for our children (and children’s children) then this is it! Here’s a closer look at the reasons to get started recycling as soon as possible:
Preserve our natural resources
If the fact we could run out of raw materials doesn’t worry you, it should. Yes, it might be something that won’t occur in our lifetime, but it’s a real worry for generations of the future – and we have the power to make a difference now. Recycling reduces our dependency on the earth’s natural resources and allows time for replenishment of its supply. Products made from recycled materials also use far less water.
Did you know that recycled paper results in 25% less pollution in the air and 75% less pollution in the water then ordinary paper production? Global environmental changes are hard to ignore and it’s frightening to think that the way we consume materialistic goods is part to blame. Using recycled products and recycling our own goods is a great way to take responsibility for all the pollution we are inevitably exerting.
Whilst there are certainly costs to effective recycling, the price of raw materials is becoming higher and higher as they are more difficult to find, extract and process. Recycling can actually save us all money. It’s even possible to make money out of recycling; whether you choose to sell old computer parts or sell clothes for cash. Online auction sites and recyclers make it possible to find a new home for disused items and profit financially without having to work the car boot sales.
Landfill is still the biggest form of waste management, with around 55% of municipal waste finding its way into the ground each year. Nearly 32% of the UK’s methane emission is from landfill waste, with methane gas being over 20 times more harmful to our environment than carbon dioxide! Not only that, but we’re running out of places suitable landfill sites here in the UK. The only way to shift our dependency on landfill, is to recycle wherever possible.
Recycling is not only great for the environment, it’s beneficial to the economy too – with jobs being made in renovation, repair and all the other process of recycling. If you want to keep promoting these new job opportunities, you need to not only recycle items yourself but choose products made from recycled materials too.
Helping those in need
Not only is recycled advantageous to the environment, but it can be an effective way of helping others in need. A lot of recycled products are sold by charities and community groups looking to raise funds, whilst charity shops are an easy way to recycle your own disused clothes and help others at the same time.
Recycling on the US–Mexico border
The United States (US)–Mexico border is one of few places in the world where a developed country has a common border with a developing country. The US economy is 25 times larger than Mexico’s and US income per capita is nearly 10 times that of Mexico, according to the World Bank.
This economic disparity has created an intense flow of goods across the border in both directions, including recyclable materials, such as cardboard and aluminum.
The markets for recyclable materials in both countries differ markedly. In the US, the supply of recyclables usually exceeds domestic demand, while it is the opposite in Mexico.
While the US has thousands of local recycling programs, Mexico has few. Mexican industry shows a strong demand for recyclables due to significant differences in prices for virgin and secondary materials.
For example, the Mexican paper industry can import market pulp (wood pulp used to make paper purchased at market prices) from the US or Canada, or, alternatively it can consume domestically recovered or imported wastepaper. Imported market pulp is seven times more expensive than domestic wastepaper.
In Mexico, however, because there are few recycling programs, demand for recyclable materials usually exceeds supply. This has stimulated an active international trade of recyclable materials between the countries. The US is the world’s largest source of recyclable materials and the largest exporter.
The North American Free Trade Agreement eliminated most tariffs on recyclables, which increased US exports to Mexico from 700,000 tonnes in 1993 to 1.6 million tonnes in 2005. Exports have diminished from that peak in 2005, but they could rebound with economic recovery.
Crossborder flow of recyclables
Recovery of recyclables in Mexico depends largely on the efforts of thousands of scavengers who collect recyclables from the streets, containers placed curbside for collection, dumpsters, transfer stations, open dumps, composting plants, and from landfills.
Income affects the waste generation rate and composition of the waste stream. Upper and middle-income individuals tend to generate more waste than their low-income counterparts. And the waste they generate tends to contain a greater percentage of recyclables, such as metals, glass, paper, and plastics.
For Mexican scavengers living on the US–Mexico border, the garbage generated in US border towns is richer than any in Mexico. Many of the materials and items discarded by US residents and businesses are valuable and considered a resource across the border in Mexico.
So, Mexican scavengers can achieve relatively high incomes by recovering waste materials in the US. However, access to this “rich” garbage is restricted, and not everyone can gather recyclables in US border towns because Mexicans wishing to cross the border need a US visa, which is very hard to get for low-income individuals.
There are three types of scavenging activities carried out by Mexicans in the US:
Scavenging for self-consumption — In this type of activity, individuals salvage items from the waste stream to satisfy their own needs. They recover food with expired consume-by dates, but still in edible condition, from US shopping centres and grocery stores. They also roam US residential neighbourhoods, looking for discarded furniture, appliances, clothing or any other item that can be reused or repaired.
Some Mexicans cross the border into the US to gather construction and demolition debris from construction sites, as well as from homes being remodeled. They salvage discarded sheet rock, door frames, window frames, and even toilets, which are taken to Mexico and re-used in building their homes.
Recovery of materials for sale to consumers — Since many low-income Mexican border residents lack a US visa, they cannot cross the border and they are unable to gather usable items. Some enterprising individuals recover discarded items in order to sell to people unable to cross the border.
Recovery of materials for sale to industry — The most common recyclable materials gathered by Mexican scavengers in the US are cardboard and aluminum cans. Cardboard collectors are popularly known as cartoneros. Most American border towns have a commercial district near the border crossing that caters to Mexican consumers. The city of Laredo, Texas, has had over the past several years some of the highest retail per capita sale rates in the US, and Mexicans account for about 65% of those retail sales.
Cardboard and aluminium
Retailing generates a lot of cardboard. The discarded cardboard is clean and the cartoneros never come in contact with mixed wastes while collecting it. They simply pick it up, load it onto their vehicles, transport it across the border and sell it in Mexico for recycling.
These are nearly ideal conditions for scavenging: it is relatively safe; scavengers can earn a respectable income; it involves no significant risks to the cartoneros’ health; and, they are not harassed by police or looked down upon by people.
A study in the neighbouring towns of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico found that Mexican cartoneros recover approximately 682 tonnes of cardboard every month, with an economic impact of nearly half a million US dollars a year. The typical cartonero earns the equivalent of three times the minimum wage in Nuevo Laredo (about US $15/day), which represents a higher income than that of many factory workers and employees.
The average cartonero has been recovering cardboard in Laredo for 14 years and engages in it on a full-time basis. It is a stable activity that has allowed them to raise a family. Most cartoneros consider their working and living conditions as fair/good, according to interviews I conducted for my 2007 book The World’s Scavengers: Salvaging for Sustainable Consumption and Production .
Mexican scavengers also recover aluminium cans in the US. Popularly known as buscabotes (literally: can seekers), this group salvages aluminium cans from dumpsters located in public spaces, street waste containers, residential garbage placed curbside for municipal collection, or simply littered on the streets. Some buscabotes recover cans on a full-time basis, while the majority of them do so in their spare time to earn extra cash.
Collecting aluminium cans is not as lucrative as collecting cardboard. Most buscabotes must roam through several neighbourhoods on foot carrying a sack or plastic bag containing the cans. They spend a considerable amount of time walking in their search for cans, which lowers their productivity, and ultimately, their earnings. The Mexican buscabotes operating full-time in Laredo, Texas, for instance, earn the equivalent of only 64% of the Mexican minimum wage.
However, not all recovery activities carried out by Mexican scavengers in the US are beneficial to American communities. Sometimes Mexican scavengers steal aluminium cans from recycling bins placed curbside. They simply extract the cans before municipal collection.
This theft of aluminium cans diminishes the revenue for municipal recycling programs. As a result of persistent theft of recyclables, 220 cities and 33 counties in California have recycling programs with anti-scavenging provisions. Individuals stealing recyclables in these communities could be prosecuted and incarcerated.
Recycling by businesses
In addition to scavenging, there are also established businesses that purchase reusable items and recyclable materials in the US and sell them to Mexicans. Some businesses operate on the US side of the border but cater to Mexican shoppers. Low-income Mexicans constitute important customers for thrift and second-hand stores located on the border.
Poor individuals purchase used furniture, appliances, clothes and kitchen utensils in US stores and then take them across the border. Most US border towns have stores that specialize in selling discarded clothing in bulk to mostly Mexican customers. Any unsold clothing is purchased by Mexican companies to make industrial cleaning rags.
On the other side of the border, many stores in Mexican border towns sell second-hand US consumer products, such as refrigerators, stoves, washing machines and dryers. These appliances often have to cleaned, refurbished or repaired before selling them.
Some Mexican businesses obtain discarded items in the US and sell them in Mexico as construction materials. Entrepreneurs purchase from US construction and demolition companies, particularly in California and Texas, discarded items such as old door frames, window frames, wood/vinyl panels, sheet rock, toilets and bathroom fixtures to be sold in Mexico. Discarded wooden pallets and plywood are also used in Mexico as construction materials to build shanties.
In many cases, homes in California and Texas are dismantled, their components taken across the border and reassembled in Mexico. Over the past few years, the recovery of discarded garage doors in California has become very popular. The doors are taken to Mexico, where they serve as walls and roofs for low-income housing.
Crossborder business-to-business transactions in recyclables also exist. Scrap dealers in Texas purchase waste materials from the assembly plants (maquiladoras) located in Mexican border towns. The assembly plants sell iron and steel scrap to the dealers, who in turn sell it to steel mills in Mexico for recycling. The dealers also purchase old metal parts from the factories in Mexico, take them across the border to their warehouses in the US and sell them back to Mexican companies as spare parts.
Go with the flow
In conclusion, the economic disparity between Mexico and the US has created very different markets for recyclables in each country. Mexico has a steady and strong demand for recyclables from the US, which has stimulated international trade in scrap. The availability of high-quality reusable and recyclable materials in the US as well as Mexican demand have also resulted in a complex system of informal crossborder recovery involving scavengers and businesses.
We know very little about the economic impact of this informal crossborder flow of recyclables, but it is likely to be several million dollars a year, and benefit many thousands of Mexicans.
What we do know is that it is mutually beneficial: it satisfies a need in Mexico, provides income opportunities to Mexicans and some Americans, and reduces the amount of waste that needs final disposal, thus saving in disposal costs, and extending the life of landfills. These crossborder activities benefit both countries and should be actively supported.
Such crossborder activities also exist in other border areas, such as Mexico–Guatemala, Colombia–Brazil, and China–North Korea. Individuals from the poorer country cross, sometimes illegally, into the more prosperous cities in the neighbouring country in order to recover recyclable and reusable items.
A more active trade in second-hand products between developed countries, such as Japan and its neighbouring developing nations, could be mutually beneficial. But attention should be paid so that this is not used as an excuse to ship unusable items to developing countries.
All about the importance of recycling
The importance of recycling is getting greater with time as the world is approaching closer to global warming. There are so many reasons to recycle. Learn about things such as wood waste recycling and asphalt shingle recycling too. It is a magnificent way for us to return the nature its resources in the best possible way so that it can be reformed and re-used by us. Before we get into further detail, let us all get clear with what exactly recycling means. It is the process of collecting, separating, reforming and reusing the materials of our bin.
Rubbish is made up of things that we throw away because we do not want them. It is also called waste. In first world countries, each person throws away a sack of waste every 10 days that a village of 350 people would produce in one week.
We throw all kinds of things away. Our waste includes paper, cardboard, glass, bottles, metals and plastic. Kitchen and garden waste and old clothes and rags are also thrown away. We throw away more garden waste and paper than any other product. Most of the things we toss in our garbage cans can be recycled which would help the environment.
Ways to produce less waste:
- Reduce: Reducing means cutting down on waste by using less in the first place. For example, we could use less packaging. Some foods are wrapped in plastic, but instead we could buy them without packaging. Also, while going for shopping if we carry a shopping bag with us, we would reduce the use of a plastic carry bag for our shopped items. We can also reduce reading things online instead of printing them. Reduce the use of water for a bath, shower and washing dishes by turning the tap off in the right time. You can also install water-conservation toilets which greatly reduce the amount of water used.
- Reuse: We can use things again instead of throwing them away. We can promote reusing as a practice starting from our homes. There are good examples to get inspired. You can donate your unwanted clothes, books, toys to orphanages, church collections, and other social centers for people in need. You can start having an exchange program within your friends. If you are done reading a book, you can exchange it for a book that you have not read with your friends. Instead of buying containers for kitchen ingredients, you can reuse the bottles of empty ingredients to store the new ones. Another way of recycling could be to use hard boxes and colored wrapping sheets to be used as handicraft items or for wrapping presents.
- Recycle: After the consumption or use of the material it can be reformed to be used again. And the importance of recycling is huge when it comes to the well-being of our planet. There are several ways we can do recycling at home. For example, we can keep our kitchen organic wastes in a pot to reform it to become organic compost for our garden plants. If you have large pieces of metal, you can take them to be scrapped. At the very least, it is easy to separate plastic, paper, glass and aluminum waste for community recycling.
Learn about asphalt shingle recycling
Asphalt shingle recycling is a booming industry. Asphalt shingles are a commonly used material that can be found in roofing and re-roofing material in the United States. If you are considering re-roofing your home, be sure to use a reputable company such as Seneca Creek Roofing.
As per statistics presented by the national association of home builders, approximately 7 – 10 million tons of shingle tear-off waste, including installation scrap, is generated annually. This indicates that the same quantity would go into the asphalt shingle recycling processes.
The process itself must be carried out with attention, as US federal law prohibits the recycling of asphalt shingles that contain asbestos. Therefore, for environmental and health reasons, a major concern pertaining to asphalt shingle recycling will always be the occurrence of the naturally occurring mineral, asbestos, which is commonly used as part of fire-proofing the roof of a house.
A dedicated processing facility must have a licensed permit in order to operate. Due to the potentially harmful particle emissions that will occur during the recycling process, due care needs to be taken to ensure that the health and safety of employees is not compromised.
A point to be noted while asphalt shingle recycling is the associated elements such as roll roofing, adhesives, waterproofing compounds or paints, which do in fact, contain asbestos. Care should be taken while recycling, and the waste stream from the recycling process should be managed in order to cause only minimal environmental damage.
On a more positive note, studies have shown that Asphalt Roofing Shingles, or ARS have immense recycling potential, especially in US states such as Connecticut, which generates approximately 2,800 tons of scrap as a result of asphalt shingle recycling on an annual basis. It is easy to distinguish from other roofing and demolition materials, and the recycling process saves money that would otherwise be invested in raw materials for infrastructural necessities such as pavements.
The state boasts of 4 fully licensed and functional facilities, which carry out asphalt shingle recycling, and the positive outcome of this are additional LEED points; LEED is an internationally-approved certification system which gives out points based on environmentally-safe manufacturing and recycling processes.
The actual process involved with asphalt shingle recycling is intense; the first step involves grinding the asphalt. This is done best under conditions that ensure the asphalt is brittle, so cold conditions are preferred. The next step involves sizing; ideally 2” or 3” – minus size pieces are obtained through using basic grinding equipment.
Once this is done it is important to grade the shingles; for this the shingles might need to go through a sieve. The final, and most important part of the process involves the removal of all contaminating agents and contaminants. Some contaminants include nails and pieces of wood; the former is removed via rotating magnet process, while the latter is put through a water flotation unit, or in some cases, is also removed manually.
Among some of the uses of asphalt, post the intense asphalt shingle recycling process, are fuel, aggregate road base, cold patches for pothole repairs, and Hot-mix Asphalt or HMA additive.
Learn about wood waste recycling
Wood waste recycling refers to the reuse or reallocation of wood waste into various departments where wood chips, boards, and even shavings, are used for a wide range of purposes. Contrary to popular opinion, wood waste is not merely meant to be burnt or thrown away because its quality, thickness, and size do not conform to the original purpose for which it was meant.
Wood waste recycling ensures for example, that post-construction OSB waste material is converted into board products. This is one of many examples of how wood waste recycling increases the use and benefit of wood in various forms.
One of the biggest benefits of wood waste recycling, is that is greatly reduces the physical space that is otherwise consumed by wood in landfill spaces. Given the rising costs of haulage and increase in landfill taxes, many wood related industries and ancillary companies have prioritized wood waste recycling in order to save money which would otherwise have been waste on paying a landfill to store their waste products.
Instead the companies have adopted an environment friendly and business-minded approach by incorporating wood waste recycling, through which the waste wood product is reused, thus providing them with higher profit margins, which are always more beneficial than the losses they would otherwise have incurred at the landfill.
Wood waste recycling need not always involve machinery, or any other process that requires it to be mashed to a pulp (for example, wood pulp is used to make paper, a process requiring machinery, manpower, and money). Recycling by its basic definition endeavors to ensure that a particular material is used to its maximum potential, up to the point where it is no longer of any use.
Wood being the durable material that it is, is already a common material in furniture items such as tables and chairs. Among some do-it-yourself wood waste recycling projects that are carried out by enthusiasts and environmentally conscious citizens, are the processes which turn bits and scraps of wood into furniture items such as the aforementioned tables, chairs, benches, wine bottle holders, hook boards for coats or keys, and a wide range of other uses.
In this way the wood is being used instead of being thrown away, and the user is getting a handy furniture item that is no doubt, useful and also costs much less money than a regular article of furniture would cost at a shop. In this way, wood waste recycling and the results of it are creatively inspired, aesthetically-pleasing, and also save more trees from being cut down.
Wood waste recycling has become popular among those who dabble in the fashion, interior design, and the environmental activism field. Concerted advocacy efforts and dedicated media campaigns that promote recycling and encourage people to save rather than cut trees, make use of creative results of wood waste recycling in order to push the message across. A number of kitsch designers proudly display their collections which contain the creative results of their wood waste recycling efforts.
Reasons to recycle
Growing environmental issues and global warming have given the average citizen many reasons to recycle their waste products and reduce their global footprints. Recycling by definition refers to the process of sorting out waste products, which can be reused with the purpose of extending their life cycle. By collecting commonly used materials such as plastic, metal, paper, clothing and biodegradable waste, and then reusing them or upcycling them, one is doing a service to the environment as well as facilitating other benefits.
Primary reasons to recycle
One of the biggest environmental concerns that are affecting our planet involves global warming. Recycling ensures that industrial production is minimized, thereby reducing the emission of harmful air pollutants that are otherwise transmitted to the air and environment during production. Air pollution reduction especially in developed countries is among one of the main reasons to recycle as it is necessary to reduce the gases which otherwise deplete the ozone layer.
Thanks to industrialization, landfill overcrowding is common, and is another reason to recycle. For example, reusing plastic and glass bottles will save landfill space. As per statistics, the average American discards close to 8 pounds of garbage daily, the process of recycling would greatly reduce this load.
Other reasons to recycle
The primary disadvantage of mass manufacturing of goods involves waste products, which in turn cause harm not only to the air and ground, but also harm the health of human beings and animals in general. Survival constitutes perhaps one of the most important reasons to recycle.
Many natural disasters have occurred due to the cutting of too many trees and spillages of toxic materials into natural water bodies where they have poisoned both aquatic life as well as humans. Animals and birds have lost their natural habitat due to deforestation, and much valuable land is wasted or rendered unfit for agricultural production due to the soil being doused with chemicals and fumes from nearby factories and manufacturing units.
The production of certain goods also leads to the production of accompanying fumes and smoke, which cause irreparable damage to the environment.
Reasons to recycle should include factoring in the need to undo as much of this damage as possible by reducing the need to manufacture products. By simply placing well-labeled trash collection bins in areas, which will allow citizens to dispose of their trash responsibly, one can easily disinfect, recycle and reuse items, which would have otherwise been manufactured in bulk at great cost to the environment.
Also relevant among the many reasons to recycle, is the fact that it will teach the younger generation to be more responsible and thoughtful when it comes to ensuring the wellness of their planet. With the rise in illnesses due to increasing pollution and other environmental factors, it is important to raise awareness through example by making recycling a compulsory part of the education process and by clearly bringing forth the risks of not doing so with the help of media and other agencies.
Largest Recycling Operation in the World
Republic Services, Inc. has announced that it is constructing the largest and most extensive multi-stream material processing system in the world. The plant was previewed by media and community VIP’s on Thursday, August 9th 2012.
The facility is located at Newby Island Resource Recovery Park 1601 Dixon Landing Road, Milpitas, California.
Republic’s world leading recycling operation can process up to 110 tons per hour of multiple waste streams. This facility sets a new standard for the recycling industry. The facility will process all of the commercial waste generated by businesses in San Jose.
Republic Services provides recycling and solid waste collection, transfer and disposal services in the US and Puerto Rico. The Company’s various operating units, including collection companies, transfer stations, recycling centers and landfills, are focused on providing reliable environmental services and solutions for commercial, industrial, municipal and residential customers.
Now onto a couple of less happy moments: along with touring Metro Paint, I visited an e-waste facility, which seemed to be doing a good job at recycling e-waste (the manager noted that everything that comes in gets recycled except for the wooden particle board sometimes found in TVs and other appliances).
But the horrifying thing was that the facility processed 13 million pounds of e-waste in 2010 from about 2.4 million people. That’s about 5 pounds per person per year.
On the positive side, this recapture rate has tripled since 2008, due to a new extended producer responibility law that Oregon passed. But that is A LOT of e-waste. At one of the conferences I spoke at a representative from the Consumer Electronics Association described how the CEA had a goal of recycling 1 BILLION pounds of e-waste in the U.S. by 2016.
While a noble effort—I guess—that means billions of metals, plastics, glass and other materials will have been ripped from the Earth’s crust to supply our marketing-stimulated demand for the latest iCrap. And I’m not sure the Earth can handle all that (especially in the context of 6.7 billion other people also craving fancy electronic gadgets and American lifestyles).