By Sterre Verwoerd
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. These three steps are followed by billions of people around the world in order to protect our Earth. But does recycling really help our environment? Or is it just a waste of time and money to feed our natural desire to be a ‘good person’?
Firstly, recycling is a long-term investment that “costs more [money] than the revenue it generates,” as Dr. Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute states (Thayer). In the U.S., the recycling industry is worth approximately 200 billion dollars. However, in the past 20 years recycling levels have not improved, despite the billions of dollars paid by the government to enforce it (Recycling). In the U.S. it costs around $60 per ton to send waste to a landfill, while recycling costs around $150 per ton (Decker). The recycling costs quickly add up when the government has to pay for double the amount of trucks and employers to collect recyclables and regular waste. Not only does recycling waste money, but it wastes time. In 2005, it was recorded that 98% of the households in Seattle participated in curbside recycling and spent 16 minutes sorting, rinsing and bundling materials each day (Thayer). This means that Seattleites spent around 97 hours that year recycling – what a waste of time!
Recycling has built a name for itself that it is the ‘best choice’ to make in order to help ‘save’ our Earth. But it is a hoax! Radley Balko at A Better Earth Organization agrees that the extra trucks utilized to transport recyclable materials to the plant result in “double the exhaust emissions into the atmosphere” (Thayer). Contributing to this, recycling plants produce around the same amount of carbon dioxide than the manufacturing plants; making recycling an unnecessary step that our government takes to preserve our environment, but in retrospect damages our environment even more. As a result, the heat and carbon dioxide are trapped under the atmosphere is contributing to global warming. So why does no one mention this when they talk about recycling? Do they hide this to protect our hopes and dreams that Earth is not destined to fail? Or are they too lazy to research the detriments of recycling? Either way, they need to wake up and smell the coffee and realize that there are major drawbacks when it comes to recycling.
However, many say that recycling has several benefits such as preventing waste getting into oceans and saving space in landfills. Though it is true that recycling helps prevent waste getting into our oceans and halts the killing of marine life, global warming will ultimately kill several other forms of life. In places like the Arctic, global warming has a major effect on the rate that the ice melts. As the temperature continues to increase, many species die as their habitats melt away. Additionally, many people are concerned that landfills are filling up and believe that recycling is the only way to save space. However, this is a fallacy based on misinformation. During 1982 and 1987, around 3,000 landfills in America shut down and J. Winston Porten, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, caused hysteria as he wrote about this ‘dilemma’. However, he failed to mention that those landfills expanded around 20 times their size and is continuing to grow (Decker). To put things in perspective, a landfill with an area of 44 square miles and 120 feet deep could maintain America’s garbage for a thousand years (Thayer). So don’t worry, America’s landfills have got you covered!
In conclusion, recycling is a falsely advertised bandwagon that we hop onto to make us feel better about ourselves, even though there are no major benefits. Yet, we still do it to create an image of ourselves at the expense of billions of dollars, our time and our home.
- “A Chinese Man Stands Near His Daily Grab Of Recyclable Trash At A Garbage Depot In Beijing.” UPI Photo Collection, 2011. Global Issues in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CT4099936186/GIC?u=60iskl&xid=bee8c3dc. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.
- “Climate Change Causes: A Blanket around the Earth.” NASA, NASA, 10 Aug. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/causes/.
- Decker, Edwin. “Recycling Is a Waste of Time, Money, and Energy.” What Is the Impact of Green Practices?, edited by Tamara Thompson, Greenhaven Press, 2016. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010970204/OVIC?u=60iskl&xid=5314c664. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Why Recycling Is a Waste of Money, Time and Energy,” sdcitybeat.com, 8 Jan. 2013.
- Karasov, Corliss. “Recycling.” Pollution A to Z, edited by Richard M. Stapleton, vol. 2, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 169-174. Global Issues in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3408100215/GIC?u=60iskl&xid=029f1891. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.
- “RECYCLING IS IN A SERIOUS CRISIS. So Let’s Fix It, Shall We?” Recycle Across America, Standardized Recycling Labels, Recycle Across America, 2018, http://www.recycleacrossamerica.org/recycling-facts.
- Seldman, Neil. “Recycling Benefits the Economy and Creates Jobs.” What Is the Impact of Green Practices?, edited by Tamara Thompson, Greenhaven Press, 2016. At Issue. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010970203/OVIC?u=colu07972&xid=9534f27c. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Recycling Stimulates Economic Development,” http://www.biocycle.net, July 2012.
- Thayer, James. “Mandatory Recycling Wastes Resources.” Garbage and Recycling, edited by Margaret Haerens, Greenhaven Press, 2012. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010301232/OVIC?u=60iskl&xid=a56ead71. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018. Originally published as “Recycle This!” Weekly Standard, 25 Jan. 2006.