Recycling refers to the conversion of waste materials into new materials or objects. This concept often includes the recovery of energy from waste materials. Recyclability is a material’s ability to regain its original properties. This alternative to traditional waste disposal can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save material. It can prevent waste from potentially useful materials, reduce consumption of raw materials, and lower energy use.
Recycling is a crucial component in modern waste reduction. It is the third part of the “Reduce, Use and Recycle” waste hierarchy. It promotes sustainability through the removal of raw material input and the redirection of waste output in economic systems. There are a few ISO standards that relate to recycling. These include ISO 15270:2008 (plastic waste) and ISO 14001;2015 (environmental management control of recycling).
There are many types of recyclable materials including glass, paper and cardboard, metal, plastics, tires, textiles and batteries. Recycling can also include composting or other reuses of biodegradable materials, such as garden and food waste. Materials can be delivered to a recycling center, or collected from curbside bins. They are then sorted and cleaned before being reprocessed into new products.
Recycling a material can lead to a new supply in ideal situations. For example, old office paper could be made into new office papers and used polystyrene foam would become new polystyrene. Metal cans can be remanufactured indefinitely without losing their purity. This is usually more difficult than producing the same product from other raw materials. Therefore, “recycling” of multiple products and materials means that they can be reuse to make different materials (for instance, paperboard). A third form of recycling involves salvaging constituent materials from complex products. This is done due to their intrinsic value (such a lead from cars batteries or gold from printed circuit boards) or their dangerous nature (e.g. Removal and reuse of mercury from thermostats and thermometers
Table of Contents
- 1 History
- 2 Legislation
- 3 Recyclates
- 4 Recycle consumer waste
- 5 Recycle industrial waste
- 6 Recycling plastic
- 7 Recycling loops
- 8 Recycling codes
- 9 Cost-benefit analysis
- 10 Critiques and responses
- 11 Participation rates of the public
- 12 Art recycling
For most of human history recycling has been a popular practice. Plato, in the fourth century BC, was one of the first to advocate it. Archaeological studies of ancient waste dumps reveal that there was less household waste during periods of limited resources, which suggests that more waste was recycled.
Evidence exists that scrap bronze and other metals were collected in Europe during pre-industrial times and melted down for reuse. In 1031, paper recycling was first documented when Japanese shops began selling repulped papers. The British “dustmen”, who collected the coal and wood ash and used it as a base material in brick-making, also used this dust to make paper recycling. These recycling methods were based on the economic benefits of using recycled material instead of virgin material and the necessity to remove waste in densely populated areas. Benjamin Law, a Batley, Yorkshire resident, developed the method of making rags into “shoddy”, and “mungo,” wools. This process used recycled wools as well as virgin wool. From the beginning of the 19th century, to at least 1914, West Yorkshire’s shoddy industry was active in cities like Batley and Dewsbury.
The demand for inexpensive materials grew with industrialization. Ferrous scrap metals were more sought-after than rags because they were less expensive than virgin ore. The steel and automobile industries bought scrap in the first half of the 20th century. Many secondary goods were collected by peddlers who searched the streets and dumps for scrap metal, pots, and pans. These peddlers were a large number in American cities by World War I. They took advantage of the market forces to turn post-consumer material into industrial production.
Around 1800, beverage bottle manufacturers, including Schweppes began offering refundable recycling deposit in Great Britain. In Sweden, a system of official recycling with refundable deposits was set up in 1884. The same system was in place for aluminum beverage cans, in 1982. This resulted in recycling rates of between 84 and 99 percent depending on the type. Glass bottles can be refilled approximately 20 times.
In the latter part of the 19th century, new chemical industries were created that invented new materials (e.g. Bakelite was invented in 1907 and promised to turn valueless materials into valuable ones. It was said that you couldn’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ears. But Arthur D. Little, a US company published “On the Making of Silk Purses From Sows’ Ears” in 1921. This research proved that “chemistry puts on an overall and gets down to business […] new value.” There are new and better ways to achieve the goals you desire.
Recycling, or “salvage”, was a significant issue during World War II. It was a problem that governments had to address because of financial constraints and material shortages. The world wars and other world-changing events created a shortage of resources that encouraged recycling. Most people realized the importance of recycling their waste to get the best out of what they had. Reusing household materials meant that more resources could be used for war efforts. In every country fighting, massive government campaigns were launched, including the National Salvage Campaign in Britain or the Salvage for Victory in the United States. They urged citizens to donate metals, paper, rags and rubber as a patriotic duty.
Post-World War II
Due to rising energy prices, significant investments were made in recycling in the 1970s. Reusing aluminium requires only 5% of the energy required for virgin production. Recycling glass, paper, and other metals can result in significant energy savings.
Although electronic consumer goods have been around since the 1920s and are still very popular, recycling them was not common until 1991. In Switzerland, the first electronic waste recycling program was created. It started with collecting old refrigerators and then expanded to include all devices. Many countries were unable to deal with the large amount of electronic waste or their hazardous nature at the time these programs were developed. They began exporting the problem to countries that didn’t have environmental laws. The cost of recycling computer monitors in the United States is 10 times higher than it costs in China. When scrapyards discovered that they could recover valuable substances like copper, silver and iron during recycling, the demand for electronic waste in Asia grew. The 2000s saw an explosion in sales and growth of electronic waste as a waste stream. In fact, e-waste grew faster in 2002 than any other waste type in the EU. This led to investment in automated facilities that could handle the large influx of people, particularly after 2003’s strict laws.
The European Union held approximately 50% of the world’s waste and recycling industry share in 2014 with more than 60,000 companies employing over 500,000 people and a turnover exceeding EUR24 billion. EU countries must achieve at least 50% recycling rate; the top countries are at around 65%. The average EU recycling rate was 39% in 2013, and is steadily rising to 45% for 2015.
The United Nations General Assembly established 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Goal 12, Responsible Consumption & Production, outlines 11 targets to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” Target 12.5, the fifth target, is to substantially reduce waste generation by 2030 as indicated by the National Recycling Rat.
Global “crisis” has erupted in 2018 due to changes in the recycling sector. China’s “National Sword” policy was announced on 31 December 2017. It established new standards for the import of recyclable material, and banned materials that are considered too dangerous or dirty. This policy caused major disruptions to the global recycling market and decreased the prices for scrap plastic and low grade paper. The G7 countries exported significantly less recyclable material to China, and many people moved to southeast Asia. This raised serious concerns about the practices of the recycling industry and their environmental sustainability. This abrupt shift led to countries accepting more material than they could process. It also raised fundamental questions about the possibility of shipping waste from developed nations to countries without environmental regulations, a practice that was in place before the crisis.
A steady supply of recyclable material is essential for a recycling program’s success. There are three legislative options that can be used to provide such supplies: container deposit legislation, mandatory recycling collection, and refuse bans. The mandatory collection laws establish recycling targets for cities. These usually require that a specific percentage of the material be diverted from the city’s waste stream by a specified date. This goal is up to the city.
Container deposit legislation mandates refunds for the return of certain containers–typically glass, plastic and metal. A small surcharge will be added to the price of a product that is placed in such containers. This can be reclaimed by the consumer when the container has been returned to the collection point. These programs have resulted in an average recycling rate of 80%. Despite these excellent results, there has been strong opposition to the shift of collection costs from local governments to industry and consumers. This is especially true in areas where manufacturers are responsible for recycling their products. The WEEE Directive in the European Union requires that producers of consumer electronics reimburse recyclers for their costs.
Another way to increase the supply is to ban certain materials from being disposed of as waste. This includes old tires, used oil, old batteries and tires. This could create an economy that allows for proper disposal. It is important to ensure that there are enough recycling services available to meet demand. Otherwise, illegal dumping can increase.
Demand mandated by the government
To increase and sustain the demand for recycled material, four forms of legislation were used: utilization rates, minimum recycled content mandates and procurement policies.
Utilization rates and minimum recycled content mandates increase demand, forcing manufacturers to incorporate recycling into their production processes. A minimum percentage of a product’s content must be made up of recycled material. Utilization rates offer a more flexible option. Industries can either meet their recycling targets at any stage of their operations or contract out recycling in return for tradable credit. These methods are opposed by those who claim they restrict industry’s flexibility and increase reporting requirements.
Through “procurement strategies”, governments have increased recycling demand by using their purchasing power. These policies can be either “set-asides”, that reserve money for recycling products, or “price preference”, programs that allow recycled products to be purchased with larger budgets. Other regulations may be required in certain cases. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency requires that oil, paper, and tires are purchased from recycled or reprocessed sources whenever possible.
Recycled product labeling is the final regulation that government has put in place to increase demand. Producers are required to label packaging with the amount recycled material contained (including packaging). This allows consumers to make better choices. With sufficient purchasing power, consumers can make more conscious choices. This encourages producers to increase recycled material and increases demand. If the label specifies where and how the product can be recycled, standardized recycling labels can have a positive impact on the supply of recyclates.
A raw material that is sent to a recycling facility or materials-recovery facility for processing so it can be used in new products and materials production, is called “recyclate”. Plastic bottles can be transformed into plastic pellets or synthetic fabrics.
One of the main challenges to achieving a sustainable economy is the quality of recyclates. This is generally how much of the material it contains is target material and non-target material. Steel and other metals are intrinsically more recyclable than steel. It is estimated that about two-thirds all new steel is made from recycled steel. Target material can only be recycled. Therefore, non-target or non-recyclable material in excess can decrease the number of recycled products. It can be more difficult to achieve high-quality recycling if there is a large amount of non-target or non-recyclable materials. Recyclates of poor quality are more likely to be sent to landfills or other recovery options. To facilitate the remanufacturing and recycling of clear glass products there are strict restrictions on colored glass entering the remelt process. Another example is plastic downcycling. Products such as plastic food packaging can often be recycled into lower quality products.
Recyclate quality can not only support high-quality recycling but also provide significant environmental benefits through reducing, reuse, and keeping products from going to landfills. By maximising the value of waste materials, high-quality recycling can help to boost economic growth. High-quality recyclates can bring significant value to local governments, businesses, and households. High-quality recycling can increase consumer and business confidence and encourage investment.
Each step in the recycling supply chain can have an impact on the quality of the recyclate. Non-target or non-recyclable materials can be placed in recycling collections by waste producers. This can impact the quality of final recycling streams and make it more difficult to dispose of those materials later in the process. Different collection methods can lead to different levels of contamination. Multimaterial collection can lead to increased contamination. It is necessary to separate the materials into different streams. This can result in a significant decrease in the quality of final products. This can be made more complicated by transportation and compaction. Even with improvements in technology and in quality of recyclate materials, sorting facilities still are not 100% efficient in seperating materials. Re-processors can have problems if materials are kept outside where they might get wet. To reduce the non-target or non-recyclable material, further sorting may be necessary.
Recyclate Quality Action Plan (Scotland)
The Recyclate Quality Action Plan for Scotland proposes a series of actions that the Scottish Government will take to improve the quality of materials being recycled and sorted at recovery plants before they are exported or sold on to the reprocessing markets. These are its objectives:
- You can increase the quality of recyclate and make it more transparent.
- Help people who contract with recycling facilities to identify the requirements.
- Respect the Waste (Scotland), Regulations 2012.
- Encourage quality recyclate sales to households.
- Reduce waste shipping regulations and address the issues.
The plan is focused on three areas and includes 14 actions to improve the quality of materials collected, sort, and presented to the Scottish processing market. These are:
- Input contamination and collection systems.
- Material sampling and transparency – Sorting facilities.
- Material quality benchmarking and standardization.
Recycle consumer waste
There are many systems that can be used to collect recyclates in the general waste stream. They all have different trade-offs between public convenience, government ease and cost. The main three categories of collection are drop off centers, curbside collection and buy-back centres . This is where most of the recycling costs are incurred.
Many subtly different systems are used for curbside collection. They differ based on the point at which the recyclates were sorted and cleaned. There are three main types of mixed waste collection: commingled and source separation. The waste collection vehicle usually picks up the waste.
Mixed waste collection involves recyclates being collected with other waste. The desired materials are then sorted and cleaned at a central sorting center. This can lead to large amounts of recyclable waste, especially paper, being difficult to reprocess. However, there are some advantages to this system: the city does not need to pay for separate collections, the public is not required to be educated, and certain materials may have a lower recyclability.
Commingled systems or single-stream systems are where recyclables are mixed with non-recyclable materials. This reduces the need to clean up after collection, but it requires education about what materials can be recycled.
Separation at the source
Source separation is another extreme. Each material is cleaned and sorted before it is collected. This method requires minimal post-collection sorting, and produces the highest quality recyclates. It has additional operating costs to collect each material and requires extensive education to prevent recyclate contamination. Oregon DEQ conducted a survey of multi-family property managers in the USA. About half of them reported contamination of recyclables by transients who gained access to collection areas.
Because of the high cost involved in sorting mixed waste, source separation was the preferred method. The overhead of sorting has been greatly reduced and many areas with source separation programs have moved to comingled collection.
Buy-back centers purchase separated and cleaned recyclates. This creates a clear incentive to use them and ensures a steady supply. The material can then be sold. This conserves greenhouse gas emissions if it is profitable. If not, it can increase their emission. To be financially viable, buy-back centers need to receive government subsidies. A 1993 U.S. National Waste & Recycling Association report found that it costs $50 to process a ton worth of material, which can then be resold at $30.
The US mixed recyclables value per ton was $180 in 2011, $180 in 2015 and $100 in 2017.
Glass was virtually worthless in 2017 due to the low price of sand as its main component. Plastic recycling is also hindered by low oil prices.
Napa, California received reimbursements of about 20% of its recycling expenses in 2017.
Drop-off centres require that the waste producer transports recyclates to a central place, either an installed or mobile collection station, or the reprocessing facility itself. These are the easiest collection type to set up, but they have low throughput and can be difficult to manage.
Recent technological devices, called recyclebots, allow for distributed recycling of some materials like plastic. A preliminary life-cycle analysis (LCA), shows that distributed recycling of HDPE to create filament for 3D printers is less energy-intensive than using virgin resin or conventional recycling with associated transport.
After recyclates mixed with other materials have been collected, they must be sorted. The process involves several stages. Many of these involve automated processes. This allows a truckload full of material to be sorted in under an hour. Single-stream recycling is a method of sorting materials in plants. Robotics and machine learning may aid in automatic sorting. Plants can sort a wide range of materials, including paper, plastics, glass and metals. These plants have seen a 30% increase in recycling rates. There are more than 300 material recovery facilities in the US.
Initially, the commingled recyclables are taken from the collection vehicle and placed in one layer on a conveyor belt. This stage is where large pieces of corrugated fibreboard and plastic bags can be removed manually, because they could jam later machinery.
Automated machinery like air classifiers and disk screens separate the recyclables by weight. This allows lighter paper, plastic, and glass to be separated from metal and heavier glass. Mixed paper is separated from cardboard, and the most commonly used types of plastic, HDPE (#2) and PET (#1) are collected. These materials can then be diverted to the appropriate collection channels. This is done by hand, but some sorting centers use spectroscopic scanners to distinguish between different types of plastic and paper based on their absorb wavelengths. Due to chemical differences, plastics are often incompatible. Their polymer molecules repel one another, much like oil and water.
For ferrous metals like iron, steel, and tin cans, strong magnets are used. Magnetic eddy curents can also be used to eject non-ferrous metals. A rotating magnetic field creates an electric field around aluminum cans. This creates an eddy field inside the cans which is pulled by a large magnet field. The stream then ejects the cans.
The glass can be sorted by its color, which could be brown, amber or green, or even clear. You can sort it by hand or using a machine that uses colored filters. Glass fragments less than 10 millimetres (0.39in) cannot be automatically sorted and are mixed together to make “glass fines”.
The 2003 goal of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment was to eliminate all waste by 2020. Recology, San Francisco’s refuse hauler has an efficient recycling sorting facility which has helped the city achieve a record-breaking landfill diversion rate (80%) as of 2021. Los Angeles and other American cities have reached similar results.
Recycle industrial waste
While many government programs focus on recycling at home and 64% of the waste generated in the United Kingdom comes from industry, Many recycling programs in the industry are focused on their cost-effectiveness. Because cardboard packaging is so common, it is a popular waste product that can be recycled by businesses that deal in packaged goods such as warehouses and retail shops. Other industries may deal with niche or specialized products depending on what waste they manage.
Manufacturers of glass, lumber, wood pulp, and paper all deal directly with commonly recycled materials. However, independent tire dealers might collect and recycle rubber tires to make a profit.
Metals recycling rates are generally low. The International Resource Panel (UNEP) published in 2010 reports on metal stocks and recycling rates. The panel reported that metal stocks have changed from being below ground to being used in society’s above-ground applications due to the rise in metal use over the past 20 years. In the USA, for example, copper in-use grew from 73 kg to 238 kg per person between 1932-1999.
The authors of the report noted that metals are naturally recyclable and metal stocks can be used as large above-ground mines. This is why “urban mining” was invented. They found that many metals have low recycling rates. They also warned that some rare metals are not being recycled in mobile phones, hybrid car battery packs, and fuel cells. This could lead to the end of use for these metals in modern technology.
Some metals are recycled by the military. Ship breaking is used by the U.S. Navy to recover steel from old vessels. To create artificial reefs, ships can also be sink. For many industrial and military purposes, uranium is a dense metal with superior qualities to titanium and lead. Depleted Uranium is the uranium that remains after it has been processed into nuclear weapons or fuel for nuclear reactors. It is used by all branches in the U.S. military to develop shielding and armor-piercing missiles.
Concrete and asphalt may be recycled by the construction industry, which can then make a profit selling these materials.
Some industries are rapidly expanding, especially the solar photovoltaic and renewable energy industries. They have begun to create recycling policies before their waste streams reach a significant volume. This is in anticipation of future demand.
It is difficult to recycle plastics because most programs cannot reach the required quality. PVC recycling often leads to downcycling, meaning that recycled material can only be used for products with a lower quality standard.
According to the EPA, e-waste accounts for between 20-50 million metric tonnes of global waste each year. E-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the EU. Many recyclers don’t recycle e-waste properly. The Basel Convention was established to stop the illegal flow of hazardous substances into developing countries. To ensure recyclers adhere to high standards of environmental responsibility, and to assist consumers in identifying responsible recyclers, they created the eStewards certification. It works alongside other important legislation such as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (EU) and the United States National Computer Recycling Act (USA), to protect waterways and the atmosphere from poisonous chemicals.
Television sets, monitors and cell phones are often tested for reuseability and repaired during the recycling process. If they are broken, they can be disassembled to make them more valuable if labor costs are low enough. Other e-waste can be shredded into pieces approximately 10 cm (3.9 in) wide and manually tested to determine if it contains poisonous metals. To remove ferrous metals, the remaining pieces are further shred to 10 millimetres (0.39in) particles. Non-ferrous metals are removed by an eddy current. They can be sorted by density using a centrifuge, vibrating plates, or by gravity. Precious metals may be dispersed in acid and sorted before being melted into ingots. The glass and plastic fragments that remain are separated by density and sold to the re-processors. To remove the lead from CRTs, and mercury backlights from LCDs, television sets and monitors need to be manually disassembled.
You can also recycle vehicles, solar panels, and wind turbines. These materials often contain rare-earth element (REE) or other crucial raw materials. Large quantities of REE are often required for electric car production.
While many essential raw elements and REEs can still be recovered, Phillipe Bihouix, an environmental engineer, reports that it is still difficult to recycle indium, gallium and germanium. Also, their recycling rates are extremely low.
Plastic recycling refers to the process of recovering plastic scrap and reprocessing it into useful products. Sometimes, the product is completely different from its original form. This could be done by melting down soft drink bottles, then casting them into plastic chairs or tables. Plastics of some types cannot be recycled more than two or three times before their quality becomes unacceptable.
Some plastics can be melted to make new objects. PET water bottles, for instance, can be transformed into polyester for clothing. This type of recycling has a disadvantage: the molecular weight and levels of undesirable substances can change with each remelt.
In late 2019, a commercially-built recycling facility was shipped to the International Space Station. This facility accepts plastic waste and other unneeded parts, and converts them into feedstock for the space station’s additive manufacturing facility that is used for in-space 3D printers.
Some polymers can be converted back into monomers. PET can be treated with alcohol and a catalyst in order to make a dialkyl-terephthalate. To make a new polyester polymer from the terephthalate, you can use the diester with ethylene glycol. Eastman Chemical Company announced in 2019 methanolysis and syngas that can handle a wider range of materials.
To make fuel oil, waste plastic pyrolysis
Another method involves the conversion of various polymers into petroleum through a less precise thermal depolymerization process. This process can accept virtually any polymer or mixture of polymers. It also works well with agricultural waste and biopolymers such as vulcanized rubber tires, feathers and other agricultural scrap. The chemicals can be used to make fuels and feedstock, just like natural petroleum. This RESEM Technology plant in Carthage (Missouri), US uses turkey waste as an input material. Although gasification is similar to the process, it is not technically recycling because polymers are unlikely to be the result. Plastic Pyrolysis is able convert petroleum-based waste streams like plastics into high quality fuels and carbons. Below is a list of suitable plastic raw material for pyrolysis:
- Mixed plastic (HDPE, LDPE, PE, PP, Nylon, Teflon, PS, ABS, FRP, etc.)
- Mixed waste plastic made from paper mill waste.
- Multi-layered plastic.
The ideal recycling process can be divided into three loops: one for manufacturing (production-waste recycle) and two to dispose of the product (product or material recycling).
The production-waste recycle loop is comprised of the product’s manufacturing phases, which include material processing and fabrication. The same production process is used for industrial waste materials.
Two recycling phases are required for product disposal: product recycle and materials recycle. The product or parts of the product can be reused in the product recycle phase. The product can be reused with the same functionality as before (“reuse”), or it can continue to be used but with modified functionality (“further usage”). In both cases, the product design has not been modified or slightly modified.
Material recycling is required for product disassembly. This allows products to be recovered and recycled. The ideal scenario is that the materials are processed so that they can be used again in the production process.
A coding system was created to provide a uniform, consistent system for manufacturers and recyclers. In 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industry introduced the recycling code for plastics. The resin coding system was created to identify the resin content of containers and bottles commonly found in residential waste streams.
Plastic products can be printed with numbers 1-7, depending on the resin used. Type 1 (polyethylene Terephthalate), is common in soft drink bottles and water bottles. Type 2 (high density polyethylene) can be found in many hard plastics like milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles. Type 3 (polyvinylchloride) is used in shampoo bottles, shower curtains and hula hoops. It also includes wire jacketing, medical equipment siding, and piping. Type 4 (low density polyethylene) can be found in shopping bags and squeezable bottles. It also comes in totes bags, clothing, furniture, carpet, and other items. Type 5 is made up of polypropylene. It can be found in syrup bottles, straws and Tupperware as well as some automotive parts. Type 6 is made up of polystyrene. It includes meat trays and egg cartons as well as clamshell containers and compact disc cases. Type 7 covers all other plastics, such as bulletproof materials and 3- and 5-gallon water containers, cell phone and tablet frames and safety goggles, and sunglasses. A material’s recycling code or the logo with the chasing arrows is not an indication that it is recyclable, but rather an explanation about what the material is. Types 1 and 2, are the most common types of recycled material.
There is much debate about whether recycling is economical. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that waste collection and disposal creates fewer than one job for every 1,000 tons of waste material. However, 6-13 jobs are created when recycled materials are collected, processed, and manufactured. The U.S. According to the U.S. Recycling Economic Informational Study there are more than 50,000 recycling facilities that have created more than a million jobs. In May 2015, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), reported that recycling and waste had a $6.7 billion economic effect in Ohio, U.S.A, and 14,000 jobs. Economists classify this additional labor as a cost, rather than a benefit, since these workers could have worked elsewhere. The cost effectiveness of creating these jobs is still unclear.
Recycling can sometimes be more efficient than other waste disposal methods for cities. New York City officials realized two years ago that recycling programs would “burden” the city and that an efficient system of recycling could help the city save more than $20 million. Implementing recycling programs can often bring fiscal benefits to municipalities, due to lower landfill costs. According to the Economist, a study by the Technical University of Denmark found that recycling was the most efficient way to dispose of household waste in 83 percent of cases. The Danish Environmental Assessment Institute in 2004 concluded that incineration was the best method to dispose of any drink containers, even aluminum ones.
Economic efficiency and fiscal efficiency are two different things. Economists refer to externalities as unpriced benefits and costs that are not included in the economic analysis of recycling. This includes less pollution from air and incineration, and less waste leaching into landfills. Businesses and consumers would not be able to ignore the externalities without subsidies or taxes. Incinerator and landfill pollution are not properly controlled, making these waste disposal methods appear more affordable than they actually are. This is because pollution from nearby people is part of the cost. Advocates have advocated for legislation to increase the demand for recycled materials. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has endorsed recycling and stated that it reduced carbon emissions by a net 49,000,000 metric tonnes in 2005. The Waste and Resources Action Programme in the United Kingdom stated that Great Britain’s recycling efforts have reduced CO 2 emissions by 10-15 million tonnes per year. Economic efficiency will determine whether the additional cost of recycling is worth it, and whether the artificial demand created by legislation is worthwhile.
Recycling must meet certain requirements in order to be both economically viable and sustainable. There must be a sufficient source of recyclates and a method to extract them from the waste stream. A nearby factory should also be able to reprocess the recyclates. Finally, there must be a demand for recycled products. These two last requirements are often overlooked. Without an industrial market to produce the collected materials as well as a market for the manufactured products, recycling is insufficient and in reality only “collection”.
Julian Simon, a free-market economist, stated that there are three ways society could organize waste disposal. (a) Commanding, (b), guiding by tax or subsidy and (c) leaving it up to the individual and market. These principles seem to be the most controversial in economic thought today.
Frank Ackerman supports a high degree of government intervention in recycling services. He believes that recycling’s benefits cannot be quantified using traditional laissez faire economics. Allen Hershkowitz is in favor of intervention. He believes that it is an equal public service to education and police. He believes that manufacturers should bear more responsibility for waste disposal.
Margaret Walls and Paul Calcott advocate the second option. A small refuse fee and a deposit refund scheme would encourage recycling, but not at the cost of illegal dumping. Thomas C. Kinnaman concluded that a landfill tax would encourage consumers, businesses, and local councils to recycle more.
Many free-market thinkers dislike subsidies and intervention because they believe that they are wasteful. If cities collect garbage at full cost, private companies can recycle materials that have a higher return on investment (e.g. Aluminum) and not other materials for which there is less benefit (e.g. Glass. However, cities often recycle even though they do not have enough money to collect the paper or plastic, and must pay private recycling companies for it to be taken off their hands. Donald Leal and Terry Anderson believe that recycling programs should be run privately and would only continue to operate if there is more money than it costs. Daniel K. Benjamin claims that recycling is a waste of resources and lowers the wealth level of people. He points out that recycling can be more expensive than landfills and that landfills in the United States are so tightly regulated that they have negligible pollution effects. Additionally, the recycling process generates pollution and consumes energy which may or not be lower than virgin production.
Recyclates can be traded
Some countries trade unprocessed recycled materials. Some people have complained that the fate of unprocessed recyclates exported to other countries is not known and may end up in landfills rather than being reprocessed. One report states that between 50 and 80 percent of computers intended for recycling in America are not actually recycled. Reports indicate that illegal-waste imported to China are being deconstructed and then recycled for monetary gain without considering workers’ health or the environment. These practices have been banned by the Chinese government, but they are still being practiced. The prices for recyclable waste dropped precipitously in 2008 before rebounding in 2009. From 2004 to 2008, cardboard averaged around PS53/tonne. In 2008, it dropped to PS19/tonne and then rose to PS59/tonne by May 2009. PET plastic was about PS156/tonne. It dropped to PS75/tonne then rose to PS195/tonne by May 2009.
Some regions are unable to export or use as much material as they recycle. This is especially true for glass. Both the U.S. and Britain import large amounts of green-colored wine. Although most of the glass is recycled, there isn’t enough wine production outside of the Midwest to make use of all the reprocessed material. Extra glass must be reprocessed into building materials, or put back into regular waste streams.
The northwestern United States also has trouble finding markets for recycled paper due to the high number of pulp mills and proximity to Asian markets. However, the demand for newsprint in other parts of the United States has fluctuated greatly.
RecycleBank is a program that pays citizens to recycle. It receives money from local governments for reducing the amount of landfill space that must go. The single-stream process automatically sorts all materials.
Critiques and responses
Critics question the net economic and environmental benefits that recycling has over its costs. They also suggest that recycling advocates often do more harm than good and are subject to confirmation bias. Critics argue that transportation and collection costs are more expensive than the energy and production costs. They also claim that recycling can lead to job losses in other sectors like logging and mining. Paper pulp, for example, can only be recycled once before it becomes too difficult to recycle.
Many products are not made with recycling in mind, which is why recycling can be so difficult. This problem is addressed by sustainable design. It was first described in the book Cradle to Cradle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart. The authors suggest that each product and all packaging should have a complete closed-loop cycle for each component. This ensures that the component returns to the natural ecosystem via biodegradation, or can be recycled indefinitely.
From a practical perspective, complete recycling is impossible. From a practical standpoint, complete recycling is impossible.
Recycling diverts waste away from landfills, but current recycling doesn’t include the dispersive elements. They believe complete recycling is impossible as the highly dispersed materials of waste can be so concentrated that it becomes difficult to recover them.
It is important to fully understand the benefits and costs involved in environmental economics. Paperboard packaging is a good option for packaging food products, as it is easier to recycle than other plastics, but can be more difficult to ship, and could cause more spoilage.
Energy and material flows
Recycling can save energy depending on the material and type of energy accounting used. Life-cycle analysis that uses real energy values and exergy can provide accurate accounting of this energy saved. This is how energy can be used to produce useful energy. It takes a lot less energy to produce one unit mass of recycled materials than it takes to make the same amount of virgin materials.
Emergy is a term that’s spelled with an “m” analysis by some scholars. It refers to the budget for energy (exergy), which is needed to create or transform something into another type of product or service. Emergy calculations consider economics, which can affect pure physics-based results. Researchers have found that materials with high refining costs are most likely to have high recycling benefits by using emergy’s life-cycle analysis. The best emergy efficiency comes from systems that are geared towards material recycling. Materials are designed to be recycled back into their original form or purpose. Next, adaptive reuse systems are followed by by-product reuse systems, which allow parts of products to be used to make a completely different product.
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a paper mill that makes paper from recycled paper uses 40% less energy than one that makes paper from fresh wood. Critics argue that recycling products require more energy than traditional landfill disposal methods. This is because curbside collection often requires a second waste truck. Recycling proponents argue that the second timber truck or logging truck can be eliminated when paper is collected for reuse, and the net energy consumption is therefore the same. A recycling life cycle analysis revealed that aluminum, fly ash and recycled concrete aggregate have higher recycling efficiency ratios than steel. However, lumber recycling has the lowest recycling benefit ratio. The energy savings budgets are affected by the nature of the recycling process and the analysis methods used.
It is difficult to calculate the amount of energy used or produced by waste disposal processes. This is because causal relations are dissipated into complex networks and material and energy flow. Cities do not always follow the same strategies for ecosystem development. The biogeochemical pathways are more straight-forward than wild ecosystems. There is less recycling and large waste flows. In wild ecosystems, however, one’s wastes can be another’s resources and so succession leads to efficient exploitation. Even modern cities can still be in the early stages of a succession that could take hundreds or even millennia. ” : 720 The amount of energy used for recycling depends on the material and the process. Recycling aluminum is more energy-efficient than producing it from scratch. According to the EPA, recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent on the energy needed to produce the same amount of aluminum as from its natural source, bauxite. More than half of all aluminum cans made in 2009 were made from recycled aluminium. It has been shown that recycled aluminium cans have a 75% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Millions of tonnes of materials are extracted from the earth’s crust every year and transformed into capital and consumer goods. Most of these materials have been “lost” over the past decades or centuries. Except for a few pieces of art and religious relics they are not used in any way. Where are they? Although recycling is an intermediate solution, it prolongs the residence time of such materials in the anthroposphere. However, recycling is not a permanent solution for such materials.
Steven Landsburg, an economist, has suggested that recycling reduces landfill space but does not offset the environmental impact and pollution caused by it. However, others have found that recycling paper requires less energy and water to produce than virgin trees. To create and sustain farmed forests that are as self-sustainable, less recycled paper is required.
Another study has shown that recycling is not efficient to “decouple” economic development from the loss of non-renewable resources. International transportation of or recycling material flows through “… differing trade networks of the three nations result in different flows and decay rates, as well as potential recycling returns. : 1 As natural resources become more scarce, their depletion becomes inevitable. It is best to wait. Complete closure of material loops in order to recycle 100 percent of nonrenewables would be impossible because micro-trace materials can dissipate into our environment, causing serious damage to our ecosystems. Karl Marx identified this as the metabolic gap. He identified an inequal exchange rate between nutrients and energy flowing from rural areas to urban areas. This creates effluent wastes that degrade the planet’s ecological capital. Jevon’s paradox is also a result of energy conservation. This occurs when improvements in energy efficiency lead to lower production costs and a rebound effect that increases consumption and economic growth.
Recycling is only as efficient as the program that was used. This will determine how much money you actually save. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the cost of recycling is affected by many factors such as landfill fees and how much waste the community recycles. Communities can save money if they consider recycling as an alternative to their existing waste system and “redesign their collection schedules/or trucks”.
Sometimes, the cost for recyclable materials can be higher than the cost for raw materials. Virgin plastic resin is 40% cheaper than recycled resin. A study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which tracked the price per ton for clear glass between 15 July and 2 August 1991, revealed that it was $40 to $60. Meanwhile, a USGS report shows the raw silica sand cost per ton from 1993 to 1997 ranged between $17.33 to $18.
The market price of recycled material is not the same as the cost of new materials. This ignores the economic externalities, which are costs that are not currently being accounted for by the market. For example, creating a new piece or plastic may be more environmentally-friendly and less sustainable than recycling an existing piece. However, these costs are not included in the market cost. An assessment of the life cycle can help determine the level of environmental impacts and decide if recycling is worth the effort, even if it comes with unfavorable market prices. Alternative legal options, such as a carbon tax, can be used to bring externalities to the market so that the material’s market price is close to its true cost.
Recycling electronic and electrical equipment can lead to significant pollution. This is a problem that is especially prevalent in India and China. These countries have experienced an environment and health crisis due to informal recycling. There are high levels of lead (Pb), polybrominated dimethylethers, polychlorinated trioxins, and furans as well as polybrominated oxins, dioxins, and furans (PCDD/Fs, PBDD/Fs), in the air, soil, water and sediments around recycling sites. These materials can cause serious health problems for workers and the environment.
Steven Landsburg, an economist and author of “Why I am Not an Environmentalist”, claims that paper recycling actually reduces tree population. He claims that paper companies are motivated to replenish their forests and large paper consumption leads to large forest sizes, while a lower demand for paper results in fewer “farmed” forests.
Foresting companies often cut down trees so that more trees can be planted. However, these “farmed” forests are not as good as natural forests in many ways. Farmed forests can’t fix soil as fast as natural forests. This can lead to widespread soil erosion, and sometimes requires large amounts of fertilizer to keep the soil healthy. However, it is much more diverse than virgin forests in that it contains little wild-life and tree biodiversity. The new trees are smaller than the ones that were cut down. This makes it less compelling for forestry advocates to claim that there will be more trees.
Because of their heterogeneity, tropical rainforest wood is not often used for paper. Subsistence farming (48% deforestation) is the main cause according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change secariat (32%). This is not related to paper production but food.
The development of the recycling sector is a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As part of Japan’s Eco-town program, Kitakyushu is the only Asian green growth model city. Recycling industries are encouraged and financially supported. The city’s industrial sector consumes more than 60% of its energy, so the development of a recycling industry leads to significant energy savings due to economies of scale effects. As a result, CO concentrations are declining.
Due to their polarizing emissions, other non-conventional methods for material recycling have gained more attention. Although many consider this a sustainable way to capture energy from material waste feedstocks, others have offered numerous reasons why it has not been widely adopted.
Recycling is often performed by entrepreneurs in some countries such as the karung gunsi, zabbaleen and the rag-and bone man, waste picker and junk man. The creation of large recycling companies that can be profitable, either through law or economies-of-scale, makes it more likely for the poor to be excluded from the recycling and remanufacturing jobs market. A society might need to develop additional programs for the poor to compensate for this loss in income. As in the parable of broken windows, recycling can be a loss for the poor as well as the society. Through the law. In Brazil and Argentina, however, informal recyclers/waste pickers work alongside the authorities in fully- or semi-funded cooperatives. This allows for informal recycling to become a legitimate, paid public sector job.
The social support of a country will be lower than the income loss to the poor who are recycling. This means that there is more chance for the poor to get into conflict with large recycling organizations. This means that fewer people are able to decide whether certain waste can be reused in its current form or reprocessed. Contrary to the recycling poor, some materials may be more efficient than others because people have more control over what they are considered “waste”.
Electronic and computer waste are a labor-intensive, underutilized waste. This is because the waste might still be functional and desired by people on lower incomes. They may sell it or use it with greater efficiency than large recyclers.
Some recycling advocates feel that individual-based recycling is not sufficient to meet all society’s recycling needs. It does not eliminate the need for an organized recycling program. The activities of the poor recycling can be considered as contributing to property destruction by local government.
Participation rates of the public
There are several changes that can increase recycling rates:
- Single-stream recycle.
- For trash, you pay as you throw fees.
Metals can be recycled in different ways depending on their type. Lead and titanium have high recycling rates, exceeding 90%. Copper and cobalt are recyclable at around 75%. About half of all aluminum can be recycled. The recycling rates for most metals are below 35%. However, 34 metal types have a recycling rate of less than 1%.
“Between 1960 & 2000, the world’s production of plastic resins increased by 250%, but the recovery rate of the material remained below 5%. ” : 131 Numerous studies have examined recycling behavior and strategies to encourage participation in recycling programs. Recycling behavior is not naturally because it requires long-term planning and focus. However, humans evolved to be more sensitive to short-term survival goals. Social pressure can be used to encourage participation in recycling programs. Recent studies show that social pressure doesn’t work in this situation. This is because social pressure works well in small groups of 50-150 individuals (common to nomadic hunters-gatherer peoples), but not in large communities, such as the ones we see today. Individual recycling is not visible to the public.
Some people continued to put recyclables in the recycle bin despite the growing popularity of recycling being sent to the same landfills that trash.
Recycled materials are becoming more popular in art objects.
Shawn Burn, a social psychologist, found that the best way to increase recycling in a neighborhood was through personal contact. He had 10 block leaders speak to their neighbors to persuade them of the benefits of recycling. Fliers were sent to a comparison group, which was also promoted recycling. The results showed that neighbors who were personally contacted and encouraged to recycle more than those who did not have personal contact. Shawn Burn concluded that it is important to encourage recycling by having personal contact with a small number of people. Stuart Oskamp also studied the impact of friends and neighbors on recycling. His studies showed that people with neighbors and friends who recycle were more likely than those without them to do so.
Schools have started recycling awareness clubs to educate students about recycling. These clubs encourage students to recycle not only at school, but also at home.
Related Products And Info: