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Recycling Laws: Eco Unfriendly? Essay

1036 words - 4 pages

Out of all the growing problems in the world, the massive accumulation of garbage seems to be the least of the people’s worries. Countless landfills are being satiated by trash of all shapes, sizes and composition; many now being paved over to serve as foundation for housing, airports, businesses, etc. If the situation were as simple to resolve as paving over the putrescent landfills, then there wouldn’t be debates or research about the environmental effects of pollution associated with improper discarding of waste materials. A majority of the types of waste can be recycled, but at what cost? Many will argue that recycling is the only way to eliminate such landfills and protect the environment from further damage. Several environmentalists groups and politicians seek to make recycling a legal responsibility, while the technology for recycling has progressed in recent years, the ratio of cost to practicality has remained essentially the same. If recycling were to be mandated, then there would have to be a paradigm shift in the circulation of products, from creation to redistribution, in order to make regulations practical.

In previous generations, recycling was very limited in its capabilities and effectiveness. Several studies from the time period actually support the claim that more trash was produced than salvaged. The collection of a stack of papers left behind mounds of gloves, trash bags, food wrappers and water bottles that couldn’t be used. With that in mind, it is completely understandable as to why groups of people in the past were against salvaging materials. Since then, the ability to process raw or reused materials has increased tenfold. Now, almost everything from wastewater to the toughest polymers can be recycled back into a primordial stew, ready for resurrection as something different. So why can’t these miraculous new processers fully eliminate the need for landfills? Well, there are three major issues when asking why this doesn’t work all by itself: companies have to produce recyclable goods that don’t contain hazardous chemicals or elements, citizens have to contribute equally to the recycling, and processing plants have to maintain the operational capacity required for processing of the waste materials. All of these considerations gravitate around one extremely powerful binding force, money.

Recycling is not a profitable business to most, if not all, companies. Their polymers and chemically engineered components are extremely cheap and strong, yet very difficult to dispose of or recycle. In an article by Mark Esterl of the New York Times, he describes the struggles of a Coca-Cola owned and operated recycling plant that was opened in January 2009 in Spartanburg, S.C. The company had made a goal of salvaging over 100 million pounds of plastic, falling short by around 60 million. This shortcoming was mostly due to the lack of incoming recyclables and the increased output of products. The discrepancy between the supply...

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