Recycling





Recycling 2970
Photo by: Beboy

Recycling is a method of reusing materials that would otherwise be disposed of in a landfill or incinerator. Household products that contain glass, aluminum, paper, and plastic are used for recycling and to make new products. Recycling has many benefits: it saves money in production and energy costs, helps save the environment from the impacts of extracting and processing virgin (never used; not altered by human activity) materials, and means that there is less trash that needs to be disposed.

The concept of recycling is not a new one. At the beginning of the twentieth century, 70 percent of the nation's cities had programs to recycle one or more specific materials. During World War II (1939–45), 25 percent of the waste generated by industrial processes was recycled and reused. Since the general public has become more environmentally conscious, the recycling rate in the United States has risen from 7 percent in 1960 to 17 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2000. Analysts predict that by 2005, Americans will be recycling and composting at least 83 tons (75 metric tons) or 35 percent of all municipal waste.

Curbside collection of recyclable household wastes in Livonia, Michigan. This municipality, and many others, orders that glass, newsprint, steel cans, and certain kinds of plastics be recycled. Recyclable wastes are collected in bins provided by the city. (Reproduced by permission of Field Mark Publications.)
Curbside collection of recyclable household wastes in Livonia, Michigan. This municipality, and many others, orders that glass, newsprint, steel cans, and certain kinds of plastics be recycled. Recyclable wastes are collected in bins provided by the city. (Reproduced by permission of
Field Mark Publications
.)

Process

Recycling is a three-step process. The first step involves collecting and reprocessing materials for recycling. These materials must be separated from other trash and prepared to become new products. Manufacturing of new products from recycled materials is the second step. The final step is the consumer's purchase and use of the recycled product.

Some problems with recycling

These steps may appear to constitute a simple and straightforward process, but such is not the case. A number of basic questions have to be resolved before recycling of solid wastes can become a practical reality. Some of these questions are technological. For example, there is currently no known way to recycle certain types of widely used plastics in an economical way. There is no problem in collecting these plastics and separating them from trash, but the process stops there. No one has found a method for re-melting the plastics and then converting them into new products.

A second problem is economic. Suppose that it costs more to make a new product out of recycled materials than out of new materials. What

Glass containers ready for recycling. (Reproduced by permission of Field Mark Publications.)
Glass containers ready for recycling. (Reproduced by permission of
Field Mark Publications
.)

company is willing to lose money by using recycled, rather than new, materials?

Legislation

One way to expand the use of recycling, of course, is to invent more efficient technologies to deal with waste materials. Another approach, however, is to use the power of government to encourage or even require recycling. Governments are interested in promoting recycling because the cost of other means of solid waste disposal is often very high. If citizens can be made to recycle waste materials rather than to just throw them away, governments can save money on sanitary landfills, incinerators, and other means of waste disposal.

Both the U.S. federal government and individual states have now passed a number of laws relating to recycling. For example, a number of states states (including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin) and the District of Columbia require that newspapers published in their jurisdictions have a minimum content of recycled fiber.

On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires government agencies to set aside a portion of their budgets to buy recycled products. All agencies are required to purchase recycled paper, refined oil, building insulation made with recycled material, and other items that are made from recycled products.

Government regulations, however, are not necessarily the best possible answer to developing recycling policies. For one thing, prices are usually higher for recycled products, and there may be problems with availability and quality of recycled goods.

Overall, researchers and environmentalists tend to agree that creativity will be the key to solving many of our solid waste disposal problems. Many landfills have reached their carrying capacity. In 1978, there were roughly 14,000 landfills in the United States. By 2000, that number had dropped to just over 5,000. Many of those currently open are expected to be closed within a few years. Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island, New York, was the largest landfill in the world. It covered over 2,200 acres (880 hectares) and reached a height taller than the Statue of Liberty. Open in 1948, it was finally closed in March 2001. As we continue to run out of space to put solid waste, recycling, composting, and reusing are fast becoming environmental and economic necessities to help reduce some of that waste.

[ See also Composting ; Waste management ]



User Contributions:

Daryl Thomas Birch
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Feb 11, 2009 @ 5:05 am
i am all for recycling. how can i do my bit for the environment??
Lauren
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Feb 13, 2009 @ 2:14 pm
I don't know, but I want to do my part too for the enviroment.
mary
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May 3, 2009 @ 7:19 pm
i know alot about recycling but i want to learn more. im doing a project about it in school and i want to learn more so please E-mail me back.
kelly
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Nov 17, 2009 @ 7:07 am
i definelty believe in recycling, it saves time and energy. and so what if they don't have a solution for re using plastic bottles entirely just yet, it just shows how many people actually care about the environment.
aurma
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Dec 2, 2009 @ 9:09 am
it's really helpful thank you it will help me get an A in my laungage arts class my grade will sky rocket
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Apr 17, 2010 @ 2:02 am
Recycling could be compared to harvesting your farm produce and reserving some for next season planting. Definitely,it will ensure continuity.
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May 24, 2010 @ 6:18 pm
It was very useful for my report. And the article was very interesting
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May 28, 2010 @ 5:05 am
this article is great. It really helped me with my assignment. I'm interested in the content, and can refer back to ther website again.
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Jun 23, 2010 @ 4:04 am
the recycling is worth in our environment because it provide the strength and clean up our community
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Apr 27, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
Hello,I am doing a school project could you please e mail me about more of this recycling information?
Jordan
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Apr 24, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
Hi, i was wondering if you could maybe update some more information, dont get me wrong this helped me alot and is a great article but do you know how scientists are trying to solve problems of disposal (to do with polymers) e-mail if possible, as i need this for my homework
Christopher
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Apr 9, 2013 @ 3:15 pm
I think it explains good reasoning, but it doesn't really matter if there is a problem with the re- processing of plastic
jessica
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Jan 26, 2014 @ 2:14 pm
HI, I am please with the imformation I received, it was actually for my home work and I got total 100%(one hundred percent) thanks a lot
hyder
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Oct 19, 2014 @ 8:08 am
how many times glass can be recycled without alteration. please let me know. thanku.
hassaan
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Nov 1, 2014 @ 1:13 pm
I like this article . Give me the answer that how many times glass can be recycled without alteration

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