Americans resisted recycling, at first, much like they resented the attempt to convert to metric measurements, but the practice of recycling has fared somewhat better than mathematical conversions in American society. Most municipalities have local and systemic recycling programs in place (like curbside pick-up services for private residences and small businesses), while public common areas (like government buildings, hub centers of transportation, and venues of attraction or entertainment) and places of employment provide multiple receptacles that help to collect and sort recyclable items. People across the country have embraced the idea of separating recyclable items from garbage and trash. Hooray! What an absolutely perfect time for the country's manner of disposal of recyclables to change, effectively making what was once considered for recycling to now be treated like trash.
A Change in the Usual Process
The United States had been selling tons of paper and other recyclables to China. In 2018, China set importation restrictions concerning particular items to recycle, which included most plastics and mixed paper (like junk mail, magazines and office paper). Companies that handle waste management can no longer provide this service since China is no longer providing a market for recycling. Stateside facilities are also restricting what items will qualify to recycle. Small and large municipalities are being forced to either pay fees that they cannot afford or chuck the recycle items along with the trash.
The rise in the accumulation of recyclable items is significantly compounded by the fact that the country's production of such waste is increasing, approximately 4 percent every year since 1985. As of 2015, every American citizen produces approximately five pounds of waste every day. The expense of shipping waste is increasing and the amount of space available for storage or disposal is decreasing.
Most municipalities have gone from selling tons of items targeted for recycling to outsourcing services for considerable amounts of money. Without affordable means of disposing of waste in a manner that is environmentally responsible, items meant for recycling are taking up more and more space in the landfills or are incinerated. This is problematic on two fronts: limited space at landfills and by-products of incineration.
Landfills and Incineration
Landfills without the complication of added recyclables already place near the top of the list of sources of emissions of methane. Inorganic substances will only take up space in landfills without ever breaking down.
Burning anything produces energy, but burning recyclables, especially plastics, emits more carbon and produces more lead, mercury and other toxic elements than it produces energy.
If Americans can improve their efforts in collecting suitable recyclable items and increase their use of reusable containers, then perhaps they can produce better candidates for recycling and less trash for the landfill.
Since Americans are responsible for their own waste, which consists significantly of recyclable items, let us help you to alleviate a growing problem. Contact us at Central Kentucky Fiber Resources, LLC.