The introduction of laws requiring mandatory recycling by numerous states has sparked polarized discussions over the future of waste management. Many stakeholders are concerned about whether recycling should be made obligatory in this case. Recycling is classified into three types: major, secondary, and tertiary. Main recycling is the reuse, gift, or sale of a product after it has been used already. Secondary recycling is a form of material or product alteration that does not entail the use of a chemical procedure. Tertiary recycling is the method of reprocessing a substance or product using either a chemical process or heat, such as melting metal. The top recycling countries in the world include Austria which has the highest recycling rate of 63%, Germany has 62%, Taiwan at 60%, Singapore at 59%, Belgium at 58%, and South Korea at 49% (Ackerman 193) . The United Kingdom is at 39%, Italy at 36%, France at 35%, and the United States at 34%.
There are some benefits associated with recycling. Firstly, recycling avoids the costs related to collecting landfill. Recycling eliminates costs related to collecting waste materials. Managing waste is an expensive affair considering the costs involved in terms of fuel, labor and other fees paid to governments (Florke 167). Recycling also reduces the number of other external costs associated with landfills such as dis-amenity effects, harmful emissions, and increased leachate. Last, but not least, recycling provides a number of direct benefits to consumers. For example, recycling of plastic and glass materials enables companies to sell their products at lower prices to the consumers (Ackerman 196). Recycling influences air pollution in a number of ways. The first influence is that the more people recycle, the less the landfills receive which results in a plus for air quality as landfills usually produce high levels of hydrogen sulfide gases. Recycling also improves the air quality as it reduces the demand for power. It requires less energy to collect, process, and ship reused materials to manufacturing users unlike mining, refining, processing, and exporting raw materials and these results in less fossil fuel use and fewer pollutants being pumped into the atmosphere. The reduction of the demand for energy and for refining raw materials also lessens the greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling also reduces emissions from incinerators and slows the felling of trees. The recycling of aluminum cans and paper results in less water pollution than the production of goods from virgin materials. The landfills have an affluence of poisonous materials which over time leak pollutants into groundwater which is a primary point of supply of drinking water.
Dangerous Myths about Recycling
Firstly people believe that only 25 to 30% of our solid wastes can be recycled, but this percentage was considered to be maximum level in 1985 (Board 555). Today communities have surpassed that limit to even higher than 50%. The second myth is that recycling is more costly than the collection of garbage and its disposal, but the truth is when the recycling programs are designed correctly they will be more cost competitive with garbage collection. The third myth is that landfills and incinerators are more cost-friendly and environmentally safe than recycling methods. The fourth myth is that landfills generate a lot of jobs for rural communities but the fact is recycling has the capacity of creating more jobs in rural and urban communities than landfills. The fifth myth is that marketplaces are the best in solving the issue of solid waste management and no public intervention is required.
Reasons why people do not recycle
People view recycling as a bothersome task as it requires extra effort while other places do not have pick up points.
Many people claim that they do not have enough space in their homes to recycle.
Some individuals do not recycle because they are not paid for it.
There is misinformation that recycling does not make a difference.
A lot of people believe it is hard to recycle because it has many facets of recycling paper, plastic, and bottles.
Reasons why people should recycle
Recycling is efficient in saving energy.
It reduces the need for more landfills.
It preserves our resources and protects the wildlife whereby there will be a reduction of animal habitats being destroyed, and there will be paper recycling that will save a significant number of trees.
Recycling benefits the economy as the recycling and purchasing of the products that have been reused develops a later demand for more recycled goods of which the water and energy used is less and it also creates less pollution.
Recycling also aids in reducing the problems affecting climate as it produces less carbon that results in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful.
Despite these benefits, recycling also has a number of downsides. For one, those against recycling argue that the practice is more expensive compared to sending the wastes to landfills. This argument is, however, unjustified since in the long run, sending wastes to landfills results into more negatives than benefits in terms of lost land, increased harmful emissions, and leachate. Different critics argue that recycled materials are unhealthy and can lead to increased health risk, which is also invalid because accredited regulatory bodies test all recycled materials to ascertain that they meet required health standards (Board 590).
The recycling rates have been on the rise over the years but so is our population, resulting in the production of more goods, more natural resources being utilized and others are being wasted. In the United States alone about 258 million tons of Municipal Solid Waste were generated, 34.6% of this amount is recycled, and the remaining 52.6% was sent to the landfills. It has been estimated that an average household creates a tonne of waste each year and with each year it increases by 3%.
Ackerman, Frank. “Why Do We Recycle?” Markets, Values, and Public Policy (2013): 190-199.
Board, NIIR. “Modern Technology Of Waste Management.” Pollution Control, Recycling, Treatment & Utilization (2016): 535-668.
Florke, Randy. “Restore. Recycle. Repurpose.” Create a Beautiful Home (2012): 165-178.