Is recycling a myth?  

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 Thc
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09/07/2018 10:57 pm  

I've been recycling everything from candy wrappers, juice container tops (under the tops), frozen vegetable bags - turning them inside out and scrubbing them, etc.

I called the local garbage/recycling center here and asked about this and that. The typical response was "throw it in the garbage". Is recycling a myth?


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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10/07/2018 9:57 am  

Recycling is not a myth. It can make a huge difference in the use of energy to make new raw metal, plastic, and paper. However, you did find the ugly underside of the antequated waste management system. Throwing separated, cleaned recyclables into one bin leads the hauler to treat all that material the same way, to send it to a Materials Recycling Facility that sorts it all again. In the process, your cleaned material is mixed up with dirty or "contaminated" material.

The solution, I believe, is to keep materials separated and get them to the specialized recyclers that will convert them into useful commodities. 

It's time to break out of our 1950s era garbage collection mindset. There is too much value lost and the price for the environment is too high.

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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Claire Waring
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11/07/2018 11:37 am  

Your best bet is to put only what your recycling provider specifically lists as acceptable items into your recycling bin. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the entire load of recyclables.

My local recycling provider doesn't accept any kind of plastic bags (they jam up the machinery that separates the mixed recycling). They also don't take candy wrappers (see https://earth911.com/food/recycling-mysteries-candy-wrappers/).

The next step is to find out if there's a center near you where you can take the other materials that aren't allowed in your recycling bin. Or someplace you can send those items.

Have you tried the Earth911 Recycling Search https://search.earth911.com/? (Note that the recycling business is constantly changing, so you might need to call to confirm any results you get before you make a trip.)

Also, check out TerraCycle's free programs for hard-to-recycle waste: https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades?locale=en-US.

Thanks for recycling!


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Trey Granger
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12/08/2018 6:31 pm  

One thing to be aware of is that many manufacturers do not design their products/packaging with recyclability in mind. You can take power over the situation by choosing products with more sustainable packaging.

You mentioned candy wrappers, which are rarely accepted in curbside programs. Well, if you buy candy packaged in paper boxes (much more commonly accepted curbside) or buy in bulk at stores, you're telling manufacturers to change their packaging or lose a customer.

You can likely find a "more recyclable" packaging for any type of consumer product.


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NormanStokes
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21/09/2018 7:40 am  

Not at all – If we calculate the cost of recycling a material than manufacturing a new one, then the cost of recycling comes out very less than manufacturing a new one. This saves money, resource environment, for which recycling is done in the first place. So, we can't say that it's a myth. It is clearly solving the purpose for which it was introduced.

eridirect.com


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frankquinn85
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12/12/2018 2:19 am  

The point on recycling is all over. Item originators are educated to think about Design for Disassembly when building up another item, so materials can be recouped at the item's finish of-life. At activities, as well, recycling is vigorously boosted, on the grounds that it is clearly the best activity. I'll tell you 5 myth about recycling:

Recycling uses more energy than making something new.
Items must be meticulously sorted for recycling.
Products made from recycled content are lower quality..
Recyclables just end up in the trash.
Recycling should pay for itself.


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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12/12/2018 11:00 am  

Frank,

 

Could you provide evidence to back your contentions, particularly that recycling uses more energy to make something new? The real challenge, it seems to me, is to make recapture of materials more efficient. We've made lots of progress, and have much further to go.

In many cases, recycling does pay for itself, which is why there is a $107 billion U.S. scrap recycling industry. 

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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12/12/2018 11:00 am  

Frank,

 

Could you provide evidence to back your contentions, particularly that recycling uses more energy to make something new? The real challenge, it seems to me, is to make recapture of materials more efficient. We've made lots of progress, and have much further to go.

In many cases, recycling does pay for itself, which is why there is a $107 billion U.S. scrap recycling industry. 

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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 Thc
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13/12/2018 1:16 am  

Back to the original post...I've been collecting those films covering frozen foods, small tabs under bottle caps, etc.,putting them together (clean and dry) in a sandwich bag and throwing them in our recycling bins - hoping that somehow we can find a way to recycle these without cluttering the rest with tiny things like this. I can just imagine what millions of these can do in our landfills.

I have always wondered how much of a toxic mess melting down some of these things that we benevolently recycle, processing it all in gawd knows what ways actually creates.


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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16/12/2018 5:07 pm  

The liners in bottle caps are changing. There is less plastic used, often none. We have a guide to recycling bottle caps. https://earth911.com/business-policy/recycling-metal-bottle-caps-jar-lids/

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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jamlaugh
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20/08/2019 1:42 am  

In response to the original post:

Recycling is certainly not a myth. The most telling indicator of this is the size of our garbage bags and the amount of waste we produce daily/weekly. That is, with earnest recycling, we certainly reduce waste. I began with leftovers first. I made sure I stored the food safely, so as to preserve it to the longest extent possible. Now I purchase only things I really need, and I make sure that what I buy is designed to last. For instance, I've replaced ballpoints with ink pens; disposable razors with long-lasting, reusable razors; Styrofoam with ceramic coffee mugs. I also have my own containers for takeout, and I've located places that don't mind using my containers for takeout. I recycle all bags, and avoid plastic and paper bags as much as possible. I've also taken to reading more to become more effective at recycling and to think better about this practice. I'm currently reading Sociology: The Essentials, and it's interesting to imagine how people might react if one were to ask for leftover food from a different table. Even if you offer to pay full price for it, the request is likely to be frowned upon or dismissed as a joke. But it's slightly better than wasting food: this is only a thought experiment; I'm not at all claiming that it's feasible, just interesting to think about. However, we can introduce "wastage charges," 1o percent extra if customers waste food.

 

BTW, my first post here. Nice to meet you all 🙂


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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20/08/2019 11:59 am  

Jamlaugh, Thanks for the comments. The small changes we make will add up, and put pressure on manufacturers to change. We're also working on how to increase recycling rates and route well-sorted recyclables to specialized handlers who can turn glass, plastics 4 -7, and other now-ignored materials into new raw materials.

I've thought about wastage charges, but they tend to be retrospective in the sense that they don't become applicable until after a purchase and the resultant waste. If we can help people plan their consumption -- and we have the tools -- it may be more effective than a fee for wastage.

Unfortunately, we aren't a species that values savings as much as consumption.

Welcome!

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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jamlaugh
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22/08/2019 1:49 am  

@mratcliffe

It's very true what you say about the wastage charges being applicable only in retrospect. I hadn't thought of that at all. Great point!

Yes, planning consumption is the way to go. It baffles me that people waste food at buffets of all places. A buffet, in theory, is the best way to plan consumption, yet people crowd their plate with things they don't even want and don't hesitate to not even touch it. Sad state of affairs.


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Mitch Ratcliffe
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22/08/2019 8:42 am  

A buffet is a solid analogy. If we knew who planned to eat and how much, the buffet works. We don't plan ahead, there is no coordination of food production and preparation with actual demand, just expected demand with a lot of variance. So you get waste or shortage, never the right amount.

Mitch Ratcliffe
Earth911.com


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