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An Essay on the Importance of Recycling

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When I was a child, recycling was only important at school. My teachers would always tell me that recycling was good for the earth. But, I didn’t really show any concern, because my parents never really mentioned recycling until I got older. I started recycling aluminum cans, because I found out that companies paid money for recycled cans. The first time I took my cans to be recycled I got forty dollars, so naturally it became a regular hobby of mine. Not only did the money impress me, but also the actual facts about recycling are what really got my attention. I think that recycling is very important in keeping the world healthy, because it reduces pollutants, conserves energy, avoids the cost of disposing waste in landfills or solid waste incinerators and saves time in the procedure of creating new materials.

“North America makes up only 8% of the world’s population, but causes 1/3 of the world’s resources and generates half of the world’s non-organic garbage” (Recycling 1). However, the United States has always been an active country on keeping the rates of recycling high and growing. When many people elaborate on the purpose of recycling, the main topic is the concern of pollution. There is no question that pollution is a major factor of the distribution of recycling, but there are a variety of issues that relate to recycling. Many of these factors, including reducing 0pollution, are conserving energy, avoiding the cost of disposing waste in landfills or solid waste incinerators, and saving time.

In the process of manufacturing and remanufacturing materials, creating jobs, and building more competitive manufacturing industries. All of these contributing factors relate solely to the environment. The essential activities of recycling waste are collecting, processing, and transporting the processed materials to the manufacturers and remanufactures. In the complete cycle of recycling, material is bunched together by recyclers, curbside programs and recycling centers, and then transported to a materials recovery facility (MRF). Secondly, the manufacturers begin reprocessing; this permits used material to be remade into new material. The final process of recycling is buying the recycled made products and continuing the process over. This allows less air and water pollutants to be released and less solid waste, than using virgin raw materials1 in manufacturing which increases the release of pollutants and solid waste. Also, the pollutant releases in recycling are lower than the releases from landfilling and incineration pollutants. “Since this is primarily related to pollution it also connects to the other factors of recycling. Less 0 energy is used to produce material when you already have recycled material” (Advantage 5-6).

The cost of recycling is almost diluted because your avoiding disposal fees. Instead of paying for the disposal fees, new techniques can be afforded to make curbside programs more efficient throughout the country.

FACTS ABOUT POLLUTION BY DEBI KIMBALL:

  • Manufacturing recycled paper reduces water pollution by 35 percent.
  • Manufacturing recycled paper reduces air pollution by 74 percent. 0
  • Manufacturing recycled paper uses 58 percent less water.
  • Recycling steel and iron reduces air pollution by 86 percent.

As I mentioned earlier, recycling conserves energy. When recycling is rendered, the amount of energy needed in the manufacturing company is reduced because the material is already made and there is no use for raw material. “Recycled material such as newspaper, metal, glass and plastic containers gives a reduction of 18.3 million Btus2 per ton instead of virgin material” (Lund B.4). One and one half million Btus of energy is used to accumulate the same ton of materials being recycled at the curb, sorted at the processing facility, and transported to the manufacturer. “So actually the net reduction in energy due to recycling is an estimated 16.8 million Btus” (Advantage 5). Another factor related to the energy source is electricity. The form of electricity is used to manufacture virgin aluminum and newsprint. The process of producing aluminum is primarily through smelting and refining for virgin product, and is displaced by more efficient secondary processes causing the use of more manufacturing energy. In the case of newsprint, the wood fibers from logs are torn by mechanical grinders and replaced by more energy-efficient deinking plants. The amount of energy saved by collecting curbside garbage is roughly five times greater than the landfill disposal fees that recycling avoids. When any type of machinery is used to format material, electricity is somehow being accounted for unless the operant is operated by battery and still energy is being used.

FACTS ABOUT SAVING ENERGY BY DEBI KIMBALL:

  • Recycling one aluminum can saves the equivalent of enough energy to run a television set for three hours.
  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to make nineteen more.
  • Recycling steel cans saves 74 percent of the energy that would be used to produce them from virgin materials.
  • Every glass bottle that is recycled can save enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
  • Manufacturing recycled paper uses up to 64 percent less energy than manufacturing virgin paper.

Personally, I think it is ridiculous to have to pay for your garbage to get picked up and taken away to waste disposal facilities. The cost that I’m concerned with are those of solid waste management, those are services that the community has to pay for on a local degree. Fees for disposal landfills, waste transfer stations and incinerators range from $10.00 to $120.00 and $20.00 per ton throughout the country. The highest costs are in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the West Coast. If there are a continuous number of people not recycling, more of these solid waste management incinerators will have to be built and more money will have to be paid out of the people pockets.

FACTS ABOUT THE MATERIAL RECOVERY FACILITIES AND COST BY DEBI KIMBALL:

  • Plastics comprise approximately 8 percent of the weight and 19.9 percent of volume in U.S. landfills.
  • At current landfill tipping fee rates, recycled steel saves the United States over $2 billion per year in solid waste disposal costs.
  • Although recycling keeps about 175 million pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) out of the landfills annually, 335 millin pounds of PET are still being thrown away.

A determined fact about recycled materials is that they have already been refined andprocessed, so the second time makes the whole process cleaner and less energy- intensive rather than the original process. In a study conducted by Franklin Associates, Ltd. to compare pollutants of recycled material and virgin material shows those ten categories of air pollutants and eight of water pollutants, there’s a net reduction due to curbside recycling (Advantage 5).

GENERAL FACTS BY DEBI KIMBALL:

  • Every day, Americans use 100 million steel cans.
  • The average person in the United States can save at least seven pounds of glass each month.
  • Every year, Americans use more the 75 million tons of paper and paperboard products (about 600 pounds per person).
  • Currently, the United States recycles about 20 million tons of paper annually.

I consider myself to be a very active person when it comes to recycling and many adults, especially my parents, find that hard to believe, because of my age caliber so I decided to conduct a survey on some of the students on campus so that I could get their perspective of recycling.

My outcome was very surprising; 5 out of 10 students at San Diego City College(SDCC} actually recycle on a daily basis. The explanation of why the students recycled was quite similar. All of their statements related to having a clean and solid environment, their main focus was on their future and their kid’s future. These students at SDCC believe that any progress occurring in the environment will happen only if every generation contributes. Some ways they feel that people can aid in the operation of cleaning up the earth are beach clean-ups, recycling in the home and influencing others to recycle. One of the five students that said she didn’t recycle was Nikki Navarro, a freshman at SDCC. In response to my question, why she doesn’t recycle, she stated, “it’s pointless to be part of the 50% that recycles, because they are not saving as much waste as the others are wasting.” She feels that if it’s not a city or county recommendation then why waste time trying to separate your papers, plastics, aluminum, and glass when you can take up one second and throw it all in a huge garbage bin. When asked about the pollutants in the air and water affecting her health, she said, “that’s why they have hospitals with doctors to take care of whatever problems.” It’s quite clear to say that young adults have different feelings on the subject of recycling, and there’s really no right or wrong. Who is to say that the 50% that does recycle is right and the other half is wrong.

Anti-Recycling Myths

*Myth #1: The recycling movement is a product of a false “crisis” in landfill space.

*Myth #2: Landfills are innocuous.

*Myth #3: Landfill space is cheap and abundant.

*Myth #4: Recycling should pay for itself.

*Myth #5: There are no markets for recycled materials.

*Myth #6: Recycling doesn’t ” save trees”.

*Myth #7: The environmental harms of manufacturing and using products are incorporated into their prices.

*Myth #8: Manufacturers are compelled by law to make costly changes in their packaging and products.

#Myth#9: Recycling is nearing its maximum potential.

#Myth#10: Recycling is a time-consuming burden on the American public.

Who are the anti-recyclers?

Recycling has always faced detractors, especially municipal curbside recycling programs.

The early nay-sayers included solid waste officials who were resistant to change, and trash haulers and incinerator builders who resented the new competition.

At first, the argument was that citizens would not go to the trouble to sort recyclable items from their trash. We now know that well-designed and publicized curside collection programs in typical American suburban communities routinely achieve participation rates of 80% and higher.

Skeptics also said that markets for recovered materials would not absorb all the new materials being collected. But since 1985, consumption of recovered metals, glass, plastic, and paper by American manufacturers has grown steadily, even as commodity prices for virgin and recycled materials naturally fluctuate.

The Competitive Enterpris0e Institute, the Cato Institute (both based un Washinton DC), the Reason Foundation (based in Santa Monica, CA) and the Waste Policy Center (based in Leesburg, VA) are policy think tanks that tend to oppose government programs of any sort. At least some of these organizations accept funding from companies involved in solid waste collection, landfilling and incineration, the manufacturing of products from virgin materials, and the production and sale of packaging and consumer products. Many of the coporations that fund the anyti-recyclers have a direct economic stake in maintaining the waste management status quo and in minimizing consumers’ scrutiny of the environment effects of products and packaing.

An underlying theme of the anti-recyclers is that government bureacrats have imposed recycling on people against their will, conjuring up an image of Big Brother hiding behind every recycling bin. Yet public opinion polls and consumer research show that recycling enjoys overwhelming public support because people believe it is good for the government and co0nserves resources. This overwhelming public support, not a government edict, is a major reason why state and local initiatives in recycling have flourished.

Every aspect of recycling is countered towards the environment. Whether it’s energy consumption, pollution reduction or saving time and money, it all effects the environment.0 “Many might say that recycling is not something that they need to be concerned about, but in retrospective recycling is causing a major fuse in our air we breath and saying that your not concerned can cause you health problems” (Saving Planet Earth). The next time you’re about to throw away some garbage think about the solid waste pollutants that want be released if you recycle, also think about the time, energy and money you could actually help save by taking a few minutes a day separating your plastics, glass, aluminum, metal and paper.

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