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September 28, 2022

 

What Happens to the Plastic that we Recycle into Blue Bins?

You finish your bottled water, so you throw it into the blue recycling bin. Great! You’ve done your part in contributing to help our environment right? Well, we may think our plastic from bottles or containers is being recycled, the reality is that much of this plastic just ends up with other garbage in landfills. So what’s the point of recycling? Experts say that it’s important to do so, yet we aren’t doing it the correct way because the plastic industry has managed to market the idea of recycling to be environmentally conscious. They want to make us think that it’s fine to use plastic and that there will be no damage to the planet as long as we recycle. 

According to experts, in order to fix this recycling problem, we all need to work together to make improvements. If you want to do your part here is what you can do. Instead of constantly purchasing plastic water bottles, buy a reusable water bottle instead of plastic. With a reusable water bottle, you can just refill it whenever you want and you are helping reduce the amount of plastic being thrown out. Another idea you should take into consideration is to look for alternative sustainable versions of products you use. For instance try buying the unpackaged version of the items you like or don’t buy it if you don’t really need it. 


Plastic World: The Truth about Recycling

As we think that we are helping the world by putting plastics into those blue recycle bins, we don’t really see the reality of the whole thing at all. Most plastics go under, many feet to the ground, in landfills as we think that we will reuse them into cloths as fashion and such.

The plastic industry did a well fine job of marketing plastics, thinking that we are not harming the world but in reality, facilities are complex enough to process many of the common ones.

In 2018, there was about 27 million ton of plastic, end up in landfills, and that number, one day, will be 12 billion worldwide in 2050. All of this started around the time of World War II where they were marketed as throwaways to housewives which picked up in the following years.

Even though those plastics are used in life-saving devices such as airbags, helmets, and incubators, it can be a death sentence to those in nature. Recycling companies have not done a good job of processing all of the plastics in the world, it’s all but dysfunctional at this point.

There has been some effort into reducing the number of plastics that are growing, but the companies should be held more responsible than the consumers themselves.

What do you think?


The American Recycling Program Needs to be Revisited

Believe it or not there was a time, not so long ago, that the average American family only had one garbage can. Then a decade or so ago these extra blue cans started appearing on a regular basis. The blue can, as opposed to the normal green can, was deemed for recycling items that could be reconditioned and reused again in a different format. More recently another third can, brown in color appeared on the scene, but that is the topic for an entirely different conversation.  When the blue cans appeared from the waste management company, it was touted as good for the environment, politically correct, and had nothing but positive purposes associated with recycling. Originally, consumers were told to put almost anything and everything other than true “garbage”, food scraps, and otherwise nasty items, into the recycling program. It was presented as essentially, let us determine what is appropriate to recycle and what is not. The recycling program was a very positive endeavor. 

Recently the recycling program has taken a turn for the worse. Whereas originally, the program was essentially based on a theory of give us your dry recycling items, and we will sort through them, divide them up into appropriate categories, then send them to the people who will recondition them for reuse; it has now become very limited. Over the past couple of weeks several cities, counties, and even States have placed substantial restrictions on the items that can now be placed in the blue recycling cans. It has now become so restrictive that many people are reconsidering the utility of the recycling program. Many have decided to simply return their recycling can since there is a separate charge for them. Because of the current restrictions, our landfills will simply become overladen with items that should be recycled. The original purpose and intent of the recycling program is being compromised because of these restrictions. 

It is time to take several steps back with regards to the garbage recycling programs. The theory of recycling our consumer waste is good for the environment and will protect our future generations from significant problems related to excess waste being generated. Rather than restrict the items that can be placed in the blue recycling bins, we should be considering how to expand the program to eliminate unnecessary waste being deposited into our garbage dumps. Americans are known for the amount of products they consume, we should act responsibly and take every possible step to revisit the intention of the recycling program. We should  increase, not decrease, the type of items permitted to be placed in the blue recycling cans that we take out to the curbside to keep our regular garbage can company until the garbage man comes to empty them.


Is Recycling Really Helping Us?

According to Neil Seldman, the president of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, which is a “nonprofit advocacy group that helps communities find local solutions for sustainable development” (Thompson, 2016), recycling in the United States is benefiting the economy as well as creating jobs. Seldman notes that the recycling industry has produced more than a million jobs. Recycling also introduces “just a fraction of the new job creating and job sustaining endeavors from around the U.S.” (Seldman, 2016). A new administration in Reading, Pennsylvania has hired “its own workers at union wage and benefit level to manage the city’s recycling program” (Seldman, 2016). This new administration provided 10 new jobs and Reading expected to save $300,000. Seldman claims that Reading is home to a plant that creates 100 jobs at $14/hour. Along with this, there will be an additional 20 jobs with distribution and warehousing. In addition to Reading, Pennsylvania, there are many other places in the United States that are taking steps to create more jobs involved with the recycling industry.

However, while there are people with similar viewpoints as Seldman, there are others that see things differently. Some see recycling as having a negative impact on the world. For example, Jonathan Miltimore, the managing editor of FEE.org, argues that recycling may be doing little good. He claims that although most people view recycling as being a morally good thing, it is not effective. The act of recycling has been “ingrained into the American psyche over several decades” (Miltimore, 2019). Miltimore points to a story ran by The New York Times in March in order to support his claim that hundreds of cities are now abandoning recycling efforts. For example, the story discusses how in the international airport in Memphis has recycling bins, but every collected item ends up in the landfill anyways. Miltimore believes that “the recycling mania is a giant placebo” (2019). When people recycle, they believe that they are contributing to saving the world, but “the idea that it improves the condition of humans or the planet is highly dubious” (Miltimore, 2019). In conclusion, Miltimore argues that although people believe recycling is working, many of the recycling proposals are based on false ideas about why we need to be recycling, so in reality, recycling is not working.

Although Seldman makes valid points and supports his reasoning with evidence, Miltimore focuses on the more important effects that the “recycling mania” is having on the environment, people, and the world’s future. As Miltimore argues, recycling has been ingrained into our brains to be seen as something that is going to improve our environment and the future of our planet. Seldman sees recycling as a positive contributor to the economy as it creates jobs, but that was not the point of the recycling industry. In the beginning, recycling was invented in order to get the most out of certain materials, however, as time progressed, the reasoning behind recycling changed. Now, the point of recycling is to deal with the large amount of waste that is being produced. However, as many people like Miltimore have found, recycling is no longer preventing waste, in fact, it is no longer as effective as it used to be.

Sources:

  1. https://fee.org/articles/america-finally-admits-recycling-doesn-t-work/
  2. https://www.biocycle.net/2012/07/17/recycling-stimulates-economic-development

Lack of Recycling in America

According to Forbes, America is ranked 18th in the developed world for its recycling rates. Because of its large population, it is generating more trash than many European countries even before taking into account its lower ranking. While 85 million tons of recycled municipal waste may seem impressive, when compared to the waste not recycled in America, it results in a mere 34% recycling rate. As of 2016, Germany was leading the world in recycling with an impressive 65% of all waste being recycled, nearly doubling America’s.

However, Professor Daniel K. Benjamin believes recycling is a hoax and not an issue America needs to improve. “It is a waste to recycle when the costs of doing so exceed the benefits,” Benjamin says. He believes the resources required to recycle are not worth the minimal environmental benefits it provides. However, if we keep allowing our trash to accumulate in such high quantities, future generations on earth will not have nearly as high a quality of life, because they will be limited drastically by landfills and all the environmental defects that come with it. The trash will seep into rivers and oceans, contaminating the habitats and diminishing marine life.

While Benjamin may not be far from the truth about America’s weak recycling abilities, it is merely an incentive to improve our recycling rates to compete with leading countries like Germany and Austria so that its cost will not exceed the benefits. We need to better care for our home and environment if we want life on earth to be sustained.

https://www.youthvoices.live/tag/recycling/