Some facts about the actual costs of recycling vs. traditional disposal expenses is presented by this article, and is certainly worthy of examination: a) a well-run curbside recycling program costs between $50 and $150 per ton; b) typically a trash collection and disposal program costs between $70 to $200 per ton. When New York City discovered that it was losing money on its recycling program in 2002, it eliminated glass and plastic recycling. But then its landfills were full and closed, and out-of-state landfills raised prices so high it made sense for New York to begin recycling glass and plastic again, and today it is "an economically viable" alternative to hauling truckloads of plastic and glass to other states to ham their landfills.
EarthTalk. "Why Is Recycling Not Mandatory in All U.S. Cities?" About.com. Retrieved June
18, 2011, from http://environment.about.com. 2011.
In answer to the above-referenced question from Vicki in Geneva New York, EarthTalk responds that "Mandatory recycling is a hard sell in the United States" simply because this is a free market nation and putting waste into landfills "remains inexpensive and efficient." The fact is that putting waste in landfills still costs less than curbside recycling. That said, EarthTalk adds that numerous cities have discovered ways to recycle more economically, finding better markets for the reuse of recycled materials and "automating sorting and processing" systems. In Brooklyn New York, a new automated, streamlined sorting process is "saving money, landfill space, and the environment."
Environment Green. "Recycling Facts and the Benefits of Recycling." Retrieved June 17, 2011,
This article explains that recycling is the process of "turning one product's useful parts into a new product" -- and it is done to promote the conservation of resources, and to lessen the pressure on overflowing landfills. One plastic bottle recycled "saves anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years in the landfill" but also saves the environment from emissions that are an inevitable part of the process of producing new bottles. Facts: about 60% of our trash thrown away could be (can be) recycled; most people don't realize plastic bottles are made from oil, the same oil used to make gasoline, not an unlimited resource; and global warming isn't a theory, it's a scientific fact, and recycling reduces carbon footprints that contribute to climate change.
Environmental Protection Agency. "Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal
in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2009." Retrieved June 19, 2011, from http://www.epa.gov. 2010.
In a fact-heavy paper, the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been collecting data on the generation of waste and the disposal of waste materials for thirty years, reports that Americans in 2009 generated "about 243 million tons of trash" and also "recycled and composted 82 million tons of this material." That adds up to a recycling rate of 33.8% the EPA says in this article. That is an enormous improvement over the estimated 10% of municipal solid waste that was recycled / composted in 1980. In 2009, for the average American on an average day, he or she generated about 4.34 pounds of waste and recycles or composts 1.46 pounds of those 4.34 pounds. This article reports the facts of recycling in the U.S., analyzes the progress that recycling has made over the years, and breaks down the kinds of waste (the "municipal solid waste" MSW) that are part of recycling programs. In the reusable category (like glass, plastic, wood, and paper) the EPA offers statistics that clearly show recycling has benefits. To wit, in 2009: 31% of glass containers were recycled; 14% of plastic containers were recycled; 22% of wood packaging (think wood pallets) was recycled; 88% of newspapers were recycled; 54% of magazines were recycled; 37% of telephone books and 33% of books were also recycled.
Fobes, Jeff. "City of Ashville wins 'Best Local Government Recycling Program.'" Mountain
Express. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from http://www.mountainx.com. 2011.
While Laramie is grabbling with coaxing its residents to use curbside recycling, the city of Asheville, South Carolina has received an award for its excellent recycling program. The city has a "strong history of providing recycling options" for citizens, and that is borne out by the fact that "80% of its residents" currently participate in recycling. In this case, the benefits go beyond conservation and reducing the materials that find they way to the landfill; indeed, when a city receives an award related to preserving the environment, it defines it ad an elite modern American city, a positive bragging point for businesses and chambers of commerce.
Guiterrez, Melinda, and Johnson, Cheryl 'Shae.' "Why Save a Can?" Science Activities. 46.1.
Rain forests and recycling aluminum are the main themes in this journal article. As a way of pointing out another benefit of recycling, this article was chosen because it has a direct link from recycling a can to helping preserve a vital cog in the natural world -- rainforests. The authors believe that showing children the benefit of recycling an aluminum can -- in other words, bringing science into an environmental education class -- helps prepare them for a life that can lead to sustainable practices. The students in this class learn that aluminum is the second most used metal in the world, and that recycling aluminum saves "… 95% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum from raw materials." Where do rainforests come into the issue of recycling? First, rainforests produce enormous quantities of oxygen; second, rainforests provide habitat for an amazing diversity of valuable wildlife and vegetation; third, many medicines that help people heal come from rainforest plants (70% of all cancer medicines come from rainforests); and fourth, bauxite, needed to produce aluminum, is found in rainforests. Hence, recycling aluminum cans and other aluminum products reduces the need to mine bauxite, and that means rainforests do not need to be exploited as much.
Haldeman, Tracey, and Turner, Jeanine Warisse. "Implementing a Community-Based Social
Marketing Program to Increase Recycling." Social Marketing Quarterly (SMq), XV.3,
In addition to the many environmental and social benefits to recycling, one county in Maryland makes a profit from recycling. According to Haldeman, et al., this particular county (not named) earned $1.8 million from their recycling program, as residents in the country have been recycling waste at an average rate of 30% for the past 17 years. But that wasn't as good as the county believed it could do, since the landfills were overflowing and the issue of global climate change was alerting citizens to the need to conserve at greater degrees of participation. So in 2008 the county launched a marketing campaign; they used public relations, advertising, direct mail and "community outreach to county schools," and the result was a rate of 50%, up twenty percent from pervious years. The article delves into nuts and bolts of marketing -- which includes the above-mentioned strategies as well as door-to-door educational efforts by volunteers during which residents were asked to "sign a commitment to recycle at least 50% of their waste -- and if the steps indicated by the authors are truly followed, any community can have financial and conservation-related success in the same way the Maryland county accomplished its goals.
Hamilton, Carey. "Industries, consumers all benefit through recycling." The Journal Gazette.
Retrieved June 18, 2011, from EBSCO.
Carey Hamilton is Executive Director of the Indiana Recycling Coalition. She notes that the state froze recycling funds -- gleaned from landfill fees -- that were intended for recycling projects. She asserts that there are currently "…thousands of Hoosiers employed in manufacturing aluminum, glass, plastic, paper and steel" and hence, building on this sector of the economy will help Indiana manufacturers "become more competitive" in the global market.
Johnston, Melinda. "Recycling brings money to Bain: Company pays for recyclable items to benefit school (Mint Hill). The Charlotte observer. Retrieved June 18, 2011, from EBSCO. 2011.
Schools can benefit from recycling even when it is done on a very modest program. For example, Bain Elementary School Art Teacher Carrie Vizzini earned money for her class through the TerraCycle program (that is available to any nonprofit organization). What Vizzini did was have students save and collect juice cartons; the TerraCycle Company advertises on the backs of the juice pouches that they will pay 2 cents per returned pouch. In two years' time, thanks to an expanded program of recycling a number of items, teachers at Bain received $2,500 (used for supplies for several classes). They had turned in (from home and school) 83,575 juice pouches; 27,555 plastic sandwich bags; 11,528 chips bags; 2,511 corks; 2,071 cookie wrappers; 1,710 energy bar wrappers; and 1,354 writing instruments.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "Recycling." Retrieved June 18, 2010, from http://www.nrdc.org/enterprise/greeningadvisor/wm-recycling.asp.
The NRDC is among the most prestigious and visible environmental / conservation organizations in the United States. This article explains that it is "less polluting" to manufacture products from "recovered materials" than it is to produce the identical products from "newly harvested or extracted virgin materials." For example,…