What’s Happening to the Recycling Industry?

The CEO of the Waste Management company has stated we are in a “Nationwide Crisis” when it comes to recycling. The issue is that waste management companies are not making enough profit from their recycling sectors. Many waste management companies can’t afford to keep their recycling plants active which has led to a large amount closing all over the United States with the extra recycled materials going straight to the landfill. Residential recycling would still be possible without a public service but citizens would have to take more responsibility in disposing of recyclable waste but would lead to an even steeper drop in recycling rates.

The Cause

This is in part caused by lowered commodity pricing for recycled goods and less foreign demand (countries like China who buy wholesale material waste for manufacturing) but part of the problem is completely domestic. Many communities and cities today recycle with little indiscretion which makes the job for processing plants ever longer and more costly. Recycling has become part of almost everyone’s routine but the fact that we don’t use as much discretion as other chores is the root of the problem.

From “Solid Waste Production”. Tim Casse, Vermont State College

Recycling: Anything Goes!

In the 1990’s, cities across the United States wanted to get more of their residents actively recycling. The best way to do this would be to make the act of recycling more easy for the average person. This created a more indiscriminate attitude towards recycling, where people were encouraged to throw all of their recyclable items (and as it turns out, non-recyclable as well) into the bin. This creates problems for recycling plants who have to extend the filtering process since different materials like glass, plastic and paper are being mixed together but must be separate and broken down to be sold as a commodity. Along with this, cities started to make their recycling bins bigger and bigger which allows people to recycle more material but do it more indiscriminately. Many people stopped breaking down larger items like cardboard boxes which now fit whole in the bin. Larger items may also not be 100% recyclable either but even with smaller bins, people were encouraged to just toss it in.

What Can You Do?

To help decrease the burden on recycling plants, the average citizen needs to recycle smarter. Here are some quick and easy ways to do this:

  • know if all the items in your recycling bin are completely recyclable,
  • breaking down larger items to shorten the process at the plant
  • and making sure glass and other easily shattered materials are kept intact when placed in the bin.

Here is a list of what the City of Nashville accepts in your bin:

  • All paper products (cardboard, office paper, etc.)
  • All plastic bottles and containers (beverage containers, detergent containers, etc.)
  • All metal and aluminum containers (food and drink cans)

What shouldn’t go in your bin:

  • Soiled food containers, or containers with food remnants
  • Plastic bags and Styrofoam
  •  Any glass items (need to be taken to a separate recycling center of separated from regular recycling)

 

For more information on recycling in Nashville, take a look at Nashville’s Government Site.

Comments

  1. the first 3 days are the hardest. You do781&2#n;t realize how much of your time involves food, so you have to find something else to keep your mind off of it.

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