What is Recycling?

Recycling is the process of treating used or waste materials to make suitable for reuse. The phrase reduce, reuse, recycle has been spread across the nation. However, recycling is still a problem across the U.S. Not only are we not recycling enough but sometimes we don’t recycle correctly. There are many ways that the efforts toward recycling could be increased with help from the federal government.

Although recycling has been around for sometime, it has not been able to reach its full potential in terms of reducing landfills and keeping the environment clean. In the U.S., 75% of the waste stream could be recycled but only about 30% is. If the U.S was able to recycle all 75%, it would be equivalent of removing 55 million cars. One of the biggest problems caused by not recycling is the amount of waste found in the environment. Although you may not see it, there are about 45,000 pieces of plastic for every square mile of ocean. Not only would recycling clean up our environment but it would have a positive economic impact as well. If the entire recyclable waste stream was recycled, it would bring in around $7 billion in revenue.

Lack of recycling has become a problem for a number of reasons. Even when people across the U.S want to recycle, sometimes they do it wrong. Many times people have misconceptions about what can and cannot be recycled. Things such as old CD’s, cardboard and some cloth can be recycled but are often thrown away. Another problem is that some places do not have recycling areas convenient to them. Not having a nearby recycling center or personal recycling bin sometimes drives people away from taking the time to recycle. A major issue that many are not aware of is that most of the time, recycled things still end up in landfills. While there may be a lack of recycling due to misconceptions and lack of resources, some people are not convinced that recycling is worth their time. Many say if they got some reward, such as money, they would recycle. Additionally, people don’t believe that recycling is the answer.

The issue of recycling has been viewed in many different ways across political parties. While the Democratic party has made an effort, the Republican party has not put forth any effort to improving. The Grist stated, Under President Obama, The Department of Transportation and the EPA issued new fuel-economy standards and The Environmental Protection Agency took steps to regulate carbon dioxide emissions…Under Donald Trump, the United States stands alone as the only nation in the world that is not a party to the Paris Climate Agreement.

There are many interest groups that have been created to help increase how much we recycle across the nation. The National Waste & Recycling Association is the trade association representing private-sector U.S. waste and recycling companies, as well as the manufacturers and service providers that do business with those companies. The organization provides leadership, research, education and safety expertise to promote the North American waste and recycling industries. We stand to serve as their voice and create a climate where members prosper and provide safe, economically sustainable and environmentally sound services.

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