Recycling

Recycling Has Its Ups and Downs

Recycling is a matter of life or death. Not only affecting products, recycling can restore the air we breathe, the health of humans and animals, and the amount of time that we have on this earth

If we ignore this and do not recycle as much as possible, then life as we know it will end. The air will get harder to breathe, water will become toxic, trees and plants will die off, and animals will become extinct. Last will be humans. Recycling is a circle that can either keep going around or eventually come to an end. It is up to us humans to decide on what we want to happen to the future. If we make the wrong decision or think that this is being exaggerated, then we will all have a big wake up call. Recycling is important. It not only proves that life can be restored, but also that small things can make a big difference.

The products that are produced every day affect us in many ways. Resources like coal, oil, and gas are overproduced and instead could be reduced by just recycling. These energy sources are considered to be nonrenewable because it takes longer to reproduce or replenish in the time it takes to need again. Crude oil, like petroleum, is used to make things like gasoline, diesel fuel, and oil that heats homes. Natural gases like propane, butane, and ethane are also found in oil and considered to be fossil fuels, which were formed millions of years ago from the buried remains of plants and animals. If we were to recycle all the renewable products, then we could save over two-trillion trees a year. We could potentially heat 50,000,000 homes for twenty years if we recycled all the wood and paper that was thrown out each year (40 Interesting Facts).

Not only does not recycling affect our natural resources, but it also takes effect on our environment. One of the biggest problems is that trash is primarily thrown into landfills, which is very hazardous. Landfills contain toxins that will eventually leak into the soil and groundwater. Not only does it take years for the trash to break down, but the substances will release arsenic, acids, and lead which will eventually end up in our environment and threaten our public’s health (Bausback).

Another issue with using landfills is that when the landfill waste breaks down and water filters through the waste, a liquid chemical called Leachate is formed. The biggest cause of this is rain falling down on the landfill, forming groundwater with many harmful chemicals. As this liquid Leachate seeps down through the decomposed waste components, chemicals like Methane, Carbon Dioxide, Organic Acids, Alcohols, and Aldehydes are formed, creating a toxic “cocktail” in the air surrounding it. All of this will produce greenhouse gases that is twenty times more powerful than carbon dioxide and will create a lot of trouble for our environment. Methane itself is flammable and in these large applications in the landfills, can be very dangerous.

For years, recycling has been seen as a hobby. Many people did not believe that it was necessary to reuse everyday products or even think of sorting their trash to recycle. It was nice that all they had to do was throw their trash in a bag and put it out to discard. It was too much work to sort things or even take them to where they needed to go to be recycled. This is the main reason that we have issues with recycling. It is because people feel like recycling is not worth the work since they do not receive money for what they turn in, or that they feel it would not make a difference if they did recycle. The fact is that one person can make a difference just because of the amount of trash that is produced every year from each individual.

Recycling has been well-known for useful ever since the ninth century. Japan was the first to realize that paper could be reconstructed after use and be made as new again. This became a trend and the recycled paper became more valued because of how it proved that life could be restored (A Brief History). In the 16th century, the New World began recycling linen and rags made from cotton. These materials were produced to make Bibles and newspapers. By World War II, there was a lot of need for tin, rubber, steel, and paper to save money for the war. In the 1960s, yard waste, metals, and paper were first seen being left at the curb for pick up. The 1970s were a big part of the recycling movement. Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and the recycling symbol was created. In 1976, Massachusetts was the first state to receive an EPA recycling grant, allowing to implement weekly curbside pickup with a $20,000 residential recycling truck. All of this led to what we have today with recycling. It is even more common than it was back then and making a difference in not only our environment, but also our health because of less being thrown into landfills.

There are a lot of things that can be recycled, reused, or even composted, rather than just being thrown into a landfill. Paper is the most popular thing used that could be easily recycled. Paper and cardboard are both things that would help save the lives of trees if they were recycled, as they are 34% of the most common waste. There are a lot of things made out of these two things and most can be recycled, like gift bags, gift boxes, wrapping paper, and boxes. The biggest issue is that those that products that have coating, like a lot of wrapping paper, isn’t recyclable (How do I recycle). The best thing to do is to always look for the recyclable picture when buying products so that less of the other types will be made. When sales are lacking on a certain product, then companies will make fewer and concentrate more on what is selling. That is why it is very important to look for recyclable items when shopping.

Plastic is another issue we have with recycling. There is a lot that has the recycling symbol, but even more that doesn’t. All plastic will have symbols on them, identifying what kind of plastic resin was used in producing the product. Not every type is recyclable because of the chemicals that were used in the production. In 2015, out of 35 million tons of plastic that were made that year, only 13% would not be recyclable, yet only 9.1% of those materials were recycled. Water bottles are a very common plastic that is bought in bulk. While the bottle part is nearly always recyclable, the plastic around the bottles generally are not, and neither are the caps. Caps are known to clog the machines used in recycling and the wraps are made from a plastic that is not considered to be recyclable.

Glass is something that is said to be able to be recycled continuously, but most recycling places will only take a certain type because they are “impractical” (Baskind). The best to recycle are bottles or jars that have the symbol on them, but compact fluorescent lightbulbs are usually fine as well. However, they do contain a small amount of mercury so it would be important to check with the recycling centers to see how they need to be dealt with. Glass is a good thing to recycle because it is cheaper for companies to use recycled glass instead of raw materials.

Aluminum is very commonly used, especially for cans. Aluminum is recyclable and used for a lot of things, like fruit and vegetable cans, foil, and baking pans. Although aluminum is a metal, it is very easily melted and used over and over again. Most metals are recyclable and those are the ones that are in the most demand. Things like steel, tin, brass, copper, iron and even aluminum can usually be taken to places who will buy the metal to be remade into useful products. Metals are very commonly used in a lot of things, including automobiles, appliances, buildings, instruments, and medical devices. They are materials that will always be recyclable as long as they are used and returned.

There are a lot of things that are recyclable but even more things that are considered to be nonrecyclable. This is either because of how they are made or because it is too complicated to recycle in bulk amounts. A lot of things would need to be taken apart and separated, washed, coded, or arranged by types. All of this is a lot of work that recycling centers do not want to mess with because it slows them down or could potentially damage their equipment. This is the case with water bottle caps. Even though they are plastic, they are made from a different type which is harder to break down than the bottle itself. If the bottle caps are combined with the water bottles, then they would slow the process down or even jam up the equipment so they must be separated and considered to be not recyclable.

Even though a lot of products cannot be taken to a recycling center, there are a lot can be recycled or reused in your own home. One common thing that is done is cutting down ripped towels and making them into wash rags. Also, a lot of people will reuse common jars, like mason jars, and use them for the canning process of fruits and vegetables. Aerosol cans are technically not recyclable because of the chemicals that were inside them but depending on the facility, there are some that are okay to be recycled. Household glass is also something that has some recycling issues. Although glass is considered to be always reusable, there are a lot of types that are not recyclable. It is considered to be impractical because of how many different types there are and the separation of the product. Things like light bulbs are too big of a risk because of the mercury that is inside them. It would be a lot of work to separate everything, so these are considered to be non-recyclable. This is the same with tires. Even though the rubber can be separated and used for a lot of different things, it is a lot of work to do it and not very common to be recycled.

According to “Recycling: The Good, The Better, The Best”, the average family throws away six trees worth of paper per year. This may not seem like a lot but trees affect our environment in a lot of ways. Tearing them down and not replacing them could cause the extinction of a lot of insects and even animals. They also state that every ton of paper that is recycled will save seven trees, along with a lot of things like water and landfill space. Recycling has been proven to save our environment in a lot of ways, including adding jobs. For every one job created because of recycling, it adds four jobs to the team because of the extra work that is involved with recycling. In gross annual sales of recycling plants, which averages to be around $236 billion, $37 billion of that is annual payroll to those who work in the industry. It will continue to grow as more people start to recycle, not only saving trees but the economy as a whole.

Recycling is something that can save and renew a lot of things. It has a lot of advantages that would affect our life as a whole because recycling affects so many areas. Not only does it help things keep growing, but it adds jobs, teaches responsibility, promotes wellness, allows creativity with art and recycling, and makes technology smarter. If we did not recycle everything that we could, landfills would grow and the smell that surrounds them would escalate. Prices for things we buy would increase if we didn’t recycle because the costs of producing would keep going up. This would happen because trees would get harder or costlier to get, drinking cans and bottles prices would increase, and even medical expenses would rise because of the cost to pick up garbage would be so big.

Even though a lot of people recycle, it still isn’t enough to slow down the use of landfills. We may not be able to recycle every thing that is used, but we can reduce a lot by learning how things could be reused or recycled. It is our job as a society to work toward saving Earth as much as we can and teaching the younger generation to see how serious of an issue this will become. It is important that we continue to research ways to reuse or recycle the common things that cannot be recycled right now, like batteries, chemicals, and Styrofoam. If we do not learn how to deal with these things, then it will eventually affect everyone.

References

“40 Interesting Facts About Recycling.” Conserve Energy Future, 3 Jan. 2017, www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-recycling-facts.php.

“A Brief History of Recycling.” American Disposal Services, www.americandisposal.com/blog/a-brief-history-of-recycling.

Baskind, Chris. “23 Things That Aren't Recyclable.” MNN - Mother Nature Network, Mother Nature Network, 31 May 2018, www.mnn.com/lifestyle/recycling/stories/23-things-arent-recyclable.

Bausback, Brian. “The 3 Most Common Landfill Problems & Solutions.” Handex Consulting & Remediation, 27 Apr. 2016, www.hcr-llc.com/blog/the-3-most-common-landfill-problems-solutions.

Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices - Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy - Energy Information Administration, 8 Aug. 2018, www.eia.gov/energyexplained/?page=nonrenewable_home.

“How Do I Recycle?: Common Recyclables.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 7 Nov. 2018, www.epa.gov/recycle/how-do-i-recycle-common-recyclables.

“Recycling: The Good, The Better and The Best.” Visual.ly, visual.ly/community/infographic/environment/recycling-good-better-and-best.

Should Recycling be Mandatory In the U.S

With more and more countries, states, and cities catching onto the recycling trend the question of whether or not recycling should be mandatory in the U.S. is being brought up often. 

This topic is being pushed frequently since some link waste and pollution to global warming. Some believe recycling should be mandatory due to the positive effects it can have on the environment like, reduce waste, and preserve energy. However, some do not because of the possible costliness, its can be unsafe or unhygienic, and the sorting process is difficult.

On the one hand, recycling should be mandatory because it would reduce waste, benefit the environment, and preserve energy. Only a few states in the United States have adopted a mandatory recycling law. When it became a popular topic in the 70’s, it had a positive impact. It was around the time regulations had been put in place. “More than 100 landfills that were handling as much as 90 percent of New Jersey’s waste a few years ago have been closed,..” (Sullivan, Joseph). Since the law had shut down many landfills in New Jersey, a similar law should do the same for the other states. This law would reduce waste because not as much trash would end up in dumps and landfills. The trash would go to a recycling plants, here it would be processed instead of being sold and shipped to other countries. Usually the materials are then dumped in the ocean or forgotten in landfills.

A country that has recently picked up on mandatory recycling is China. Instead of importing trash from other countries like the U.S and Germany, they have decided to ban imports of many types of waste and started to focus on their own country’s waste and enforce the regulations. “China recently banned imports of 56 types of solid waste, including paper and household plastics, which means that recycling plants are now looking to domestic sources” (Chenyu). China is one of the countries that dumps the most trash, but now they have also started to make cuts hopefully completely condemning it eventually. By enacting mandatory recycling the number of landfills would be reduced, along with the amount of waste in each. Not only would the law reduce landfills but also reduce the waste U.S. exports to other countries, not minding the end result.

Mandatory recycling would help save the environment. It would reduce the amount of trash that ends up in the ocean and an land. This waste harms animals, plants, ocean quality, and materials. Many animals are found dead or harmed from either ingesting trash, becoming entangled in it, or chemicals ruining their environment. “While many trees are felled everyday, recycled paper manufactured from specific trees is continually utilized to reduce deforestation” (Rinkesh). Mandatory recycling would greatly decrease the amount of deforestation because of the increase amount of paper that could be reused. This would also conserve energy. “Taking steps to conserve natural resources like minerals, water and wood, ensures sustainable and optimal use” (Rinkesh). By using recycled materials raw materials can be conserved and only used when needed. Implementing mandatory recycling would create an abundance of materials. Land and oceans are not only habitats to humans but also plants and animals, they are not capable of protecting and preserving their own environment from waste, deforestation, and pollution.

Required recycling would preserve energy. Recycling uses less energy, money, and time than extracting the materials. “A lot of energy is used to process raw materials in the course of manufacture. Recycling plays a big role in reducing energy consumption, which is vital for large-scale production, for instance, mining and refining.” (Rinkish). Mining depletes the amount of natural resources, and the machinery required uses an abundance of energy. By enforcing mandatory recycling in an entire country a massive amount of energy can be conserved since there would be an abundance of waste to recycle.

On the other hand some believe that, mandatory recycling should should not be enforced because it is expensive, separating materials is difficult, and it can be unsafe and unhygienic. The cost of recycling is higher than people think. It will cost billions for the sites to be built, the machinery, and trash that overflows and can not be processed soon enough is sometimes shipped away or put into a landfill. Since there will be less landfills, dumping prices will go up, this is what's happening in Australia. “The report says that in most states it was not economically viable to send recyclable materials to landfills due to waste levies, which were as high as $141 a tonne in metropolitan NSW.” (Topsfield). Since Australia had to sell materials to other countries to stop the overflow of trash, the expense of dumping was high. Then China banned importing recyclable materials, causing Australia to be stuck with landfill expenses. Citizens might have to pay to help the cost. “The research found two-thirds of Australians were willing to pay $1 to $2 extra a week in council rates to help cover the cost of curbside recycling” (Topsfield). Although most Australians seemed agree with possibly paying extra, some Americans may not feel the same. With being so unsure of the expense, people are hesitant.

Recycling should not be mandatory because the sorting process is difficult. “Most people are trying their best to recycle plastic- but the many different ways in which recycling is collected by councils across the UK has left them confused over what can be recycled and what can’t” (Stephenson). Not only is it troublesome for the recycling plants to sort plastics but, it is also troublesome for the community. This causes it to be even more difficult for the sites because it is not possible for people to sort plastics correctly without being supervised, which is impossible. A lot of recycling bins do not require sorting and leave it to the recycling plant, causing it to be very time consuming. “In recent years, however, recycling companies are struggling with higher processing cost, due in part to newer, larger recycling bins that don’t require user sorting…” (EarthTalk). The more of a struggle sorting is the higher processing cost become. Some fear that if the sorting process is not done correctly the expense would be treacherous.

Another other reason some believe recycling should not be mandatory in the United States is because of sanitary issues. Recycling produces harmful waste, whether it is gases from the incinerator or “toxic sludge”. “Most recycling processes generate large amounts of hazardous waste. In the final analysis, what’s more worrisome - old newspapers buried in the ground, or the toxic sludge generated in the process of de-inking them for recycling?”(Taylor). These forms of pollution usually end up in the environment also. When people put their waste into its bin, most people do not clean them. This results in chemicals, rotting foods, and liquids piled together waiting to be processed for weeks or months accumulating bacteria. Sometimes other things get through too. “If there are impurities or toxins in the original material-say lead paint from an aluminum spray can- they’ll usually make it through the recycling process and end up buried in the new product, say, a soda can” (Handley). This could kill, or harm many people. An even worse example being, “-hundreds of buildings in Taiwan made from recycled steel had been giving people gamma radiation poisoning- and not the good kind- for the past twelve years.” (Handley). The mistake made in Taiwan is what many people are concerned about. A mistake from a recycling plant could cause death or severe damage to people. For some, that is too much to risk.

Conclusion

After considering both sides, I believe recycling should be mandatory in the U.S. because because it may decrease the amount of harmful waste in our environment, however, we need a more effective plan, to prevent landfill pile up from overflowed recyclable materials. An increase in cost to recycle would make the country uneasy. There needs to be more effective sorting methods and tests to make sure materials are safe. Strict policies with rigorous penalties if the standards are not met would be needed. These needs will need to be met for mandatory recycling to be efficient and working. The topic of mandatory recycling is globally significant because the United States is not the only country that should consider cleaner choices.         

The Consequences of Not Recycling in Missouri

Not recycling results in pollution that will affect the planet future. The state of Missouri is working to ensure the environment is cleaner, safer, and healthier.

The planet Earth is truly astonishing. The Earth recycles everything and reuses the material from dead plants and animals to feed new plant life and to make new soil to replenish itself. But some things that are man-made take hundreds of years for the Earth to decompose. Humankind should try to do the same thing the Earth does: recycle. Trash has been overwhelming landfills and filling the lakes, ponds and rivers in Missouri and across the world. It’s up to humans to prevent this and ensure a better future.

Missourians generate 6.15 pounds of waste daily. That’s 37 percent above the national average of 4.5 pounds. According to the Missouri Department of National Resource’s 2006-2007 Waste Composition Study, nearly 45 percent of the municipal solid waste deposited in Missouri landfills could have been recycled. Some of the wastes in landfills included metals, paper, plastics, and glass. The study estimated that each year more than 1.9 million tons of recyclable materials were disposed of in Missouri landfills. That’s 1.9 million tons of materials that could have been recycled. It’s important to reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to get these numbers down and keep landfills from containmenting the environment. Ways to do this are donate old furniture, clothes, and other items to charities, start composting, take cloth bags to the store instead of getting plastic bags, and recycle anything that can be recycled.

Illegal dumping has become an issue in Missouri. Abandoned piles of garbage can threaten the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment. These open dump sites can sadly be found throughout Missouri. They are often found at the bottom of ravines, in empty lots, in pastures, and along roadsides. If these dump sites are allowed to remain, they will grow larger and attract more dumping by others. These open dumps create a public nuisance and divert land from more productive uses. They also pose many health, safety and environmental threats. They can cause fire and explosion and they damage plant and wildlife habitats. They can contaminate streams, rivers, lakes, soil, groundwater, and drinking water wells. It’s important to report illegal dumping to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen.

Despite all of the advantages of recycling, there have been disagreements and attacks on it. Some people claim that the environmental benefits of recycling are overrated because it can lead to pollution. The recycling process alone produces a lot of pollutants and during the sorting process, metals and other chemicals may leach into the land and water. Some people say it is too costly. Manufacturing plants need to built and trucks are needed to haul the recycled materials. It costs $4,000 in the United States to recycle one ton of plastic bags. People argue that recycled products are often of lesser quality and are often too fragile or overused. They say products made from used and repurposed materials don’t have the same quality of new material. Contamination is also a big problem in the recycling industry. If there are any impurities or toxins on the original material, they’ll often make it through the recycling process and end up in the new product. Although these disadvantages exist, it’s still vital to reuse materials and improve and start new recycling programs.

When comparing what happens to items that are placed in trash cans with items that are placed in recycling bins, it’s clear to see the economic benefits that recycling has over landfilling. Trucks are needed to collect both trash and recyclables. Trash is hauled to a transfer station and then sent to a landfill. Recyclables are sent to a Materials Recovery Facility. The collection and hauling process is the same for both, but what happens after is what makes their economic impacts very different. The City of St. Louis for example spends $33.98 per ton to send trash to a landfill. If it goes to a recycling facility, only $15.60 per ton is spent. The reason for this is recyclables have value as a commodity, and that offsets the cost of processing them into marketable products. The money that is saved by recycling can then be used to cover the rising cost of providing Refuse Division services. It can also prevent the need to increase trash collection fees. Once trash is buried in a landfill, any value it may have had is lost. It also builds up and doesn’t always decay.

Items still have value when they are recycled. Manufacturers can recycle them into new products and then sell their products to consumers. This helps maintain and create jobs in both manufacturing and retail sectors. Recycling not only helps the environment, it helps the economy as well. Recycling sustains more jobs than landfills. On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling. In a study conducted by the University of Missouri, they found that there are approximately

16,000 people employed in 1,500 recycling businesses in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. This includes businesses involved with recycling collection and processing, salvage, manufacturing, retail, education and composting. The more we recycle, the more businesses are able to grow and continue to contribute to the local economy.

Electronics can take hundreds of years to decompose. Glass alone is estimated to take up to a million years to decay. Some electronic scraps can be classified as a hazardous must be regulated as a hazardous waste. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recognized the e-scrap management problems. They took steps to in order to reduce the risks on human health and the environment. The workgroup developed a strategy called e-cycle Missouri. E-cycle Missouri is a program designed to provide the public with information that is needed to recycle electronics. The program provides electronic equipment recyclers with best management practices for collecting, processing and transporting e-scrap in Missouri in a way that will protect the environment. There are also laws against electronics being discarded into landfills. It is recommended that electronics should be recycled or donated.

Conclusion

Not recycling results in pollution that will affect the planet future. The state of Missouri is working to ensure the environment is cleaner, safer, and healthier. To protect the wildlife and many lakes and other bodies of water, it’s essential to recycle. To read more about recycling in Missouri, visit the MORA website at www.MORA.. Humans must do their part to take care of the earth and recycle to guarantee a greater future for Missouri and the planet.