Recycling Our View of Recycling

The town I live in started a recycling program a few years ago and I remember the headlines in the local paper being: “Recycling, will it work in Franklin?” At the time, I thought this was odd as the city I’d moved from in California has had a routine recycling program for years. Franklin's program has since launched and seemingly is successful.  For me, 90% of all my trash goes into the blue recycling bags each week; I only use my large trash bin for non-recyclables maybe once a month. Simple right?

Well, maybe not. It turns out that waste management companies don’t make much, if any money, on recycling despite the obvious benefits of lower costs of raw materials for making new products from old. The reasons are due primarily to fluctuations in the prices paid for the recycled materials and, perhaps more importantly, due to contamination of the recycled materials. The obvious question to that latter is.."why?"

In my case, all recyclables are placed into a single bag; that includes all paper, plastic, bottles, cans, etc. Easy for me, but at some point someone has to separate all that “stuff”. It also increases the likelihood of contamination if containers still have liquids which spill onto the paper products and cause mold or other health-related problems. But there are many other forms of contamination also....including things like Styrofoam, food waste, electronics waste, aerosols etc. This contamination can wreck an otherwise great plan for recycling our waste products.

The answer clearly lies in education of the public. In their defense, the waste management companies are typically not organized well for recycling, often are only responding to city mandates for a recycling program and haven’t made education a priority. But that’s starting to change. With China’s recent decision to reduce acceptance of U.S. waste, many cities in the U.S. are now realizing they have a challenge and are re-thinking how they approach recycling. In the end, it will be a good thing for our country and our economy.

With photo examples and brief explanation on the 'why it's important' and 'how to do it properly', I am confident that America can significantly reduce contamination and improve the profitability of recycling programs. The benefits of recycling far exceed the negatives of continued use of precious resources like land for landfills, cleaning contaminated water from our garbage, and raw materials like coal, gas and oil as well as metals, minerals, etc needed for final products. It’s not hard…..and as the most affluent society in the world, we NEED to own our waste as well.

Attached is a great article on the impact China’s decision is having on cities in the U.S. that have been sending their trash to China. It should cause all of us to 'recycle our thinking about recycling'. 

#recycle  #waste  #kickinggas   #china   #wecandothisamerica