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Recycle Awareness vs Recycle Capabilities vs Recycle Economics

Our society is lazy when it comes to the environment. I used to look back at my childhood and laugh, as I took my Flintstones lunch box and thermos to school. Today, I see kids take paper or plastic bags with lunch, that includes a small pouch of juice. The bag goes in the garbage, as does the empty pouch. Heck.... my lunchbox and thermos came home with me every day. Little did I realize then that I was being environmentally responsible (compared to today's society).

America Recycles Day is November 15! Really? Outside of this website, I haven't heard about this, have you? Please don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad initiative, but a good one. I just wish the message was a little louder, a little more well known. Further, many of the major sponsors and supporters of this initative seem to come from those that are creating and/or managing the waste? Is that good or bad, or neither or both?

I've expressed my viewpoints on my blog several times related to recycling. I have spoken of the need for government intervention, at the local, state and/or federal levels. Yes, I know many don't like "big" government, but the reality is that if you leave everything up to the private sector, you will have policies that are driven by money... period. Social responsibility, environmental benefits will take a back seat to profits. So America Recycles Day attempts to promote recycling and has successfully increased awareness in "millions" of Americans, so what? There is some marginal benefit here, don't get me wrong. But, the infrastructure itself is not in place for mass recycling, the economics are not there many times, and again, it's not mandatory. A vast majority of what individuals put in the recycle bin ends up in a landfill. Ironically, in some cases, items you put in the recycle bin go to a MRF (Material Recovery Facility), are rejected and then go to a landfill or other solid waste disposal method. Doesn't this actually INCREASE the amount of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere?

PET, the most recyclable resin, is recycled at rather low rates. Example, less than 25% of all water bottles made from PET are recycled! Why is that? I believe that most people drink these water bottles when they are NOT at home. They are out, doing something, and want/need a drink. They finish drinking the bottle, and where do they dispose of the bottle? Very few municipalities have public waste and recycling, where a consumer can actually put a water bottle into a container that will allow for recycling. A few will actually take the empty bottle home and re-use or recycle at home, but that is a very small minority. One thing we need is local and state governments to provide the means by which consumers can recycle OUT of home, not just in home! This would be in a park, on the street and even in businesses that have waste containers (like a mall, a fast food restaurant). Ten states now have bottle deposit laws. Some have had more success than others, with redemption levels as high as 90% and as low as 67%. In all cases it appears deposits range from $.05 - $.10 per container. We need 40 other states participating in this program! I also wouldn't be opposed to increasing deposits to $.25. Afterall, in the 1970's deposits were a $.05. People might think twice about throwing that water bottle away if it was $.25 vs $.05. Why recycling isn't mandated by law in every community is beyond me. I could go on about what is recycled vs what should be recycled, but that is another rant for another day. However, without public access to recycling, the average American can only do so much.

Today, I don't have that Flintstones Lunch Box and Thermos, but wish I did because it would probably be worth a pretty penny. Again.... it comes down to money!

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