Recycling – A Real-Life Positive

Often, the process of recycling – which is known as collecting and processing the old and converting them into the new – receives negative attention. This occurs due to misconceptions about its economic payout. However, the environmental benefits outweigh it all. Most notably, the process decreases the amount of waste that gets sent to landfills. So, this leads to saving energy and reducing the chance of greenhouse gases. With that, these factors decrease the chance of climate change and “help sustain the environment for future generations” (Source 1).

As mentioned before, there are also numerous real-life examples of the economy flourishing because of it, which are factors that are often overlooked. Therefore, efficient recycling adds a real-life positive to society because the conversation of old materials correlate with saving money. People who might be interested in this topic are “non-believers” of recycling or people who’d rather fill landfills, with the intent that they are actually saving taxpayer money. Those main claims will be refuted using logical and mathematical senses.

So, what are specific example in which money is saved through recycling?

We are going to look at two different places that not only encourage recycling, but do so in an efficient way, saving money in the long run.

Example 1:

According to my second source, Long Island, New York is a great example when it comes to having a rather efficient system with recycling. Through research done in the city, it is found that recycling services actually cost less than their landfill counterparts. For example, the town of Brookhaven ends up saving $100 dollars per ton. When you think about just how many materials there are to be taken care of, this makes recycling a bonus in the broad sense. Thus, tax payer money is certainly not going to waste, considering that with thirty percent of recycled waste, benefits total up to more than fifty million dollars a year.

Example 2:

Next, we are going to look at how recycling affects the other side of the country. According to data in Loveland, Colorado, the recycling rate is a hefty fifty-five percent.

Statistics: In this region, the net cost landfill is eighty dollars per ton, while its environmentally-friendly counterpart is only twenty-five dollars per ton. These statistics completely break the notion that recycling costs more, considering that this way of recycling is efficient, so the savings are definitely possible. Also, we have to keep in mind that the average person creates fifty-six tons of waste per year, which is a lot to be thrown away in landfill!

As emphasized, the savings in the long run is most important, so the math is imperative…

Landfilling:

\[\frac{56{ tons}}{1{ yr}}\times\frac{80{ dollars}}{1{ ton}}=\frac{4480{ dollars}}{1{ yr}}\]

Recycling:

\[\frac{56{ tons}}{1{ yr}}\times\frac{25{ dollars}}{1{ ton}}=\frac{1400{ dollars}}{1{ yr}}\]

So, how much money is saved after all through recycling?

\[$4480-$1400=$3080\]

The Bad:

Now that we know when recycling is done efficiently, it saves money as shown in the examples with Long Island, New York and Loveland, Colorado, it is important to emphasize just how detrimental landfilling is to our society. First, landfill owners are only liable for their sites after they are closed for thirty years or more. During this time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has stated that all of these sites will leak and their toxic substances can easily spread into soil and water, ultimately leading to contamination. The money to fix this totals up to millions of dollars, and it will certainly go to the taxpayers rather than the polluting industries. Furthermore, another “wasting” option is to just incinerate the trash, which is even worse because its upkeep costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Not only that, there must always be a recurring stream of trash running through the system, leaving a burden to a community to always waste but never renew (Source 3).

Specifically speaking, when it comes to pollution, landfills emit methane, which traps heat twenty-three more times than carbon dioxide. Besides that, carcinogens 0r cancer-causing substances are also apparent in this kind of process. If groundwater is indeed contaminated as stated above, it is virtually impossible to cleanup and the EPA proposes companies to abandon the affected areas. However, this groundwater provides about half of Americans their drinking water. Although incinerators aren’t as damaging to the environment, the nation has relied on ones that are over two decades old. Therefore, they possess chemicals such as dioxin and mercury, which are very harmful for the typical human being.

The Good (Conclusion):

With the rather unfortunate consequences of landfilling described above, it is foolish for one to not accept recycling into their lifestyle. Not only is it clearly very beneficial for the environment, preserving our generations to come, but it is also economically advantageous when carried out sufficiently (as exemplified in New York and Colorado). As a society, we need to spread even more awareness about the pros of recycling, highlighting its money-saving attributes. We also need to bring to light the negatives coming from landfilling, such as the contamination of groundwater, which is something that the average folk might not know. Thus, awareness is key to push the American people in the right direction, before it’s too late at least!

Sources used:

Source 1: EPA “Recycling Basics” November 16, 2015. It is hard to miss the impact that recycling brings to the environment. Most notably, it decreases the amount of waste that gets sent to landfills. So, it leads to saving energy and reducing the chance of greenhouse gases. With that, these factors decrease the chance of climate change and “help sustain the environment for future generations.” Credibility: EPA – Good. Government sponsored and factual.

Source 2: Newsday “Letters: Seeing benefits of recycling on LI” January 18, 2016. Proof that recycling causes a booming economy is shown through statistics in major cities such as Long Island. Tax payer money is certainly not going to waste, considering that with thirty percent of recycled waste, benefits total up to more than fifty million dollars a year. Credibility: Newsday – Good. Factual/statistical article.

Source 3: Broadlands Naturally “Don’t Just Recycle” November 7, 2010. Recycling in Loveland, Colorado costs much less than landfilling. ($25/ton vs. $80/ton). It is also exemplified just how detrimental landfilling is, considering that it can produce contaminated groundwater, which supports more than half of the American population. Credibility: Good – many references to take the facts from.

Source 4: Northern Colorado Disposal, Inc. “Waste Production Facts” 56 tons of trash are created from each person in America. Credibility: Good – factual and numerically accurate.

 

 

 

 

 

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