Recycle or Not to Recycle


           Since our elementary school years we've always been taught to "reduce, recycle, reuse," with heavy emphasis on the recycle component of the triad. Schools set up multiple recycling bins as the destination for every type of recyclable product there is, and residential homes are provided a recycling container along with their garbage bin from their waste services company. People were, and still are, keen on recycling their garbage in order to save our planet.

            In the recent years, as more and more people start recycling their used products, an important question has arisen: Is recycling worth it? Below are links to three different sites that have discussed the subject.


Is Recycling Worth It? : Discovery News

            Recycling Statistics- Is Recycling Worth It- Popular Mechanics

            Is Recycling Worth the Trouble, Cost? - ABC News


            Some of the main points brought up by these articles are the cost of recycling, the amount of energy consumed when recycling, the fumes emitted into the atmosphere when recycling, and whether or not what gets recycled actually gets reused. Popular Mechanics raised two important questions in its article: "Is it good for the environment" and "Does it make economic sense?" The article then goes on to discuss the two issues in detail, providing many points for why recycling won't help the environment as much as we all thought and whether or not the costs of recycling outweigh the benefits. For example, Popular Mechanics describes the following:

            "Environmental Debate: all the garbage produced in the U.S. for the next 1000 years could fit into a landfill 100 yards deep and 35 miles across on each side--not that big; So the notion that we're running out of landfill space--the original impetus for the recycling boom--turns out to have been a red herring"

            "Economic Debate:  It's surprisingly difficult to get a clear picture of how much municipal recycling programs cost compared to landfilling or incineration, because of hidden subsidies and long-term price guarantees given to all types of waste disposal. But it's fair to say that, at this point, it generally costs a little more to recycle waste than it does to dump it."

When researching this topic and reading what legitimate sources had to say on the issue, it has raised some questions in me. It is hard to throw everything that I learned about recycling and saving the planet away; however, is it possible that recycling our wastes may not help as much as we thought? Maybe there are other things we should be focusing our time on that are more effective in assuring our planet will be the same for our children? What do you think?


recycling.jpgPhotograph by Greg Miller 


If it truly costs more to recycle than to dump recyclables in a landfill, there is still a benefit from the system. The recycling process provides thousands of jobs along the line. From the truck drivers to the people working in the plants, it seems like a lot of jobs would be lost without recycling programs. Also, in order to complete the recycling process fuel and capital in the form of vehicles and machines need to be built and purchased, providing more jobs and stimulus for the economy.

From an environmental standpoint the PA Department of Environmental Protection lays out some energy saving statistics due to recycling. I am not claiming that the energy savings outweigh the monetary costs of recycling, but merely that the Government has proven statistics of it's benefits.

Recycling is not a bad idea in my opinion. Maybe the key to recycling is to find a way to make the process more efficient, so that the proven benefits of recycling are not outweighed by it's monetary costs.

Answering your question about recycling our wastes may not help as much as we thought? Life is too short to start thinking if recycling is economical and if we should care. Recycling will always help our planet. It is important to understand that recycling now will help the future generations. It is in the power of the great nations to implement a more refined and cost friendly recycling systems to every city and every country and continent in this world. It is important to educate people on the facts and impact that recycling does, how it works and the many uses already in place. There is so much more that can be done if only organization got together and worked to accomplish recycling on a broad scale. If Robots and Machines can bring the costs of recycling down, than get the resources and start working on saving the planet. Here is a good example of how recycling can have a positive out come. Making oil out of plastic
Together as one, get green and recycle.

Couldn't agree with you more Jonathan. Regardless of whether or not we "need" to recycle like previously thought, I believe it is absolutely necessary for the advancement of our race. We are only beginning to graze the surface of what we could do for our planet through recycling. I believe stricter recycling polices should be enacted across the nation, as well as the planet, to make strides in the green direction. Lately we've broken barriers with new green transportation in the form of hybrids and electric cars, as well as harvesting more and more natural energy in unique ways so I believe it is only fitting that we continue reducing our impact on our own planet by recycling.

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