Recycling in the United States

Recycling in the United States

This article examines recycling in the United States. Due to there not being a national law for recycling, mandatory recycling is legislated through state and local governments. A number of U.S. states, such as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Michigan and New York have passed laws that establish deposits or refund values on beverage containers while other states rely on recycling goals or landfill bans of recyclable materials. Some cities, such as New York City and Seattle, have created laws that enforce fines upon citizens who throw away certain recyclable materials. There are also a wide variety of voluntary programs and educational programs to increase recycling where it is not mandated by law.

Government involvement

On a national level, the United States Environmental Protection Agency oversees a variety of waste issues. These include regulation of hazardous wastes, landfill regulations, and setting recycling goals. More specific recycling legislation is localized through city or state governments. Further regulation is reserved for individual states to create. State regulation falls into two major categories: landfill bans and recycling goals. Landfill bans make it illegal to dispose of enumerated items in a landfill. Most often these items include yard waste, oil, and recyclables easily collected in curbside recycling programs. States with landfill bans of recyclables include Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan [Report from Minnesota comparing area states landfill laws] , and North Carolina [ [ NC Division of Waste Management - Solid Waste Program ] ] Other states focus on recycling goals. These include California and Illinois. Some ways that states encourage recycling of specific drink containers is by passing a bottle bill A number of U.S. states, such as California, Hawaii, Oregon, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Iowa, Michigan and New York have passed these laws that establish deposits or refund values on beverage containers in order to promote reuse and recycling. Most are five cents per can or bottle. Michigan's deposit is 10 cents. Philadelphia has been rated as the #1 most recycling city in the nation.

Financial implications

When recycling was a newer industry recycling cost as much or more than trash disposal. Some opponents of recycling argued that state support for recycling may be more financially expensive in the short term than alternatives such as landfill; recycling efforts in New York City cost $57 million per year in 2002 [Logomasini, A.(2002) [,02897.cfm Forced Recycling Is a Waste] The Wall Street Journal, March 19] . To refute this argument people pointed out that the benefits to society from recycling compensate for any difference in cost. Landfilling waste is an inefficient use of resources, contributes to global warming through the release of methane into the atmosphere and by the pollution of groundwater and waterways. The long term financial costs of remediating pollution caused by landfilling waste are often not taken into consideration.

However, in many areas there is now an economic incentive to recycle. As early as 2003 Fort Worth Texas was making $1,000,000 from their recycling program. [Recycling Made Easy and Profitable. National Recycling Coalition.] Similarly, Waukesha County's recycling program in Wisconsin began operating with positive revenues in 2004. [Waukesha County Materials Recycling Facility Report.] Most recently, Waukesha County began receiving a $6.50 per ton bonus for recyclables coming into their private MRF (Materials Recycling Facility). Combining that with average revenue from the sale of the materials as well as the counting the extra cost if the items were landfilled, the average total lost revenue (county's share) for recyclables thrown in the landfill is $112.50. [Newsletter 2008]

Recycling Education

Integrating recycling into K-12 educational system has become a goal for many educators. Usually it is integrated into science or social studies classrooms. This is due to its inclusion in the national education standards for both of these subject areas. [National Science Education Standards National Council for the Social Studies standards] Common areas that recycling is integrated into the curriculum include areas such as the study of natural resources, general environmental units, soil units, water units, community units, economic units, and geography units. Although interest is growing, major textbook publishers do not always include recycling in a textbook so teachers are left to supplement the textbooks with outside curriculum to meet the national standards. For example, in a unit about trees or natural resources teachers could include supplemental curriculum about recycling because in the textbook it is never explicitly covered. [Foss Curriculum Guide.] Non-profit organizations as well as governmental organizations have created supplemental curriculum for teachers to fill this void. Some purely non-profit groups include the Center for a New American Dream, Earth911, [] , and Be SMART. [Be SMART (Save Money and Reduce Trash)] Other creators of curriculum include governmental offices. Some of these include Oregon, [Oregon DEQ] California [California Dept. of Conservation] , and Waukesha County, Wisconsin [Waukesha County Teacher's Resources Page.] Also, some non-profit organizations have partnered with sections of the government to collaborate on educational materials. For example, The Keystone Center partnered with the United States Department of Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory to create curriculum on global warming. [Kestone Center Curriculum]

America Recycles Day

America Recycles Day (ARD) is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and buy recycled products. ARD is celebrated November 15. Hundreds of events are held across the U.S. to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and to encourage Americans to sign personal pledges to recycle and buy recycled products. [ US raises waste awareness with "America Recycles Day"] ,, Retrieved 15.11.06] [ [ George W. Bush Proclamation on America Recycles Day] ,, Retrieved 24.11.06]

Run by the recycling sector organization National Recycling Coalition, America Recycles Day is also sponsored by private and public entities, including global aluminum company Novelis, stationery firm Staples, waste firm Waste Management Recycle America, the American Beverage Association and the EPA.

Although America may not enjoy much of a reputation for environmentalism on the global stage, in some US cities recycling levels are much higher than, for example, in the UK.

ee also

*Keep America Beautiful
*Recycling in Canada
*Recycling in Ireland
*Recycling in the Netherlands
*Recycling in the United Kingdom


External links


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