Recycling Plastic and its Harmful or Helpful Effects

Recycling is a common talking point in modern times as environmental factors become more and more pertinent in the political and social conversations. Many times, we do not consider the consequences, negative or positive, that come from our actions, even if we think we do. This is the same with recycling. Since recycling is never questioned, it only gains a positive reputation. Though recycling can certainly gain some negative looks, it is important to recognize that each is possible.

With the rapid growth of pollution and environmental degrade, it is possible that the accessibility to recycling has cause the effectiveness of recycling to decrease. About 40 percent of all plastic produced is used in packaging, and much of that is used only once and then discarded. Brian Clark Howard states that less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled, though many countries and businesses are trying innovative solutions to increase that number (Howard, 2018). Often, if a household has a recycling bin to throw their milk jug away in, they will not be affected as greatly when buying multiple different milk jugs per month.

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This history of recycling is important as well, since many people believe that recycling is a new phenomenon in the green movement of modern times. Recycling actually began much sooner but wasn’t recognized under the term recycling as that is a more modern English term. In anthropological studies, it is easy to see that everything was reused in a society and everything also had a purpose. In Western Expansion days, every bit of a buffalo’s body had a purpose for the individual or the community. Since reuse is often paired with recycle the two go hand in hand and that pairing allows recycling to be a much older, kept tradition that society has finally given a name to.

In the city of Baytown in southeast Houston, the recycling program implemented there provides 96 gallon recycling containers free to each resident whether the resident wants to participate or not. (City of Baytown, 2018) By giving the option to recycle or not, the city is giving its residents the chance to decide of recycling is what is best for them. Some may not be aware of reasons why recycling could be negative or positive for themselves or the environment, but this paper lists a few of those reasons.

The Positives of Recycling Plastics

Many people believe that the best way to begin clearing the environment of the plastic pollution is to recycle all plastics. This group of people believes that recycling is the most helpful thing for the environment and is the most beneficial solution for fixing an amount of pollution. When considering recycling as a beneficial part of environmental sustainment, it is easy to see the change in the size of landfills, trash in oceans, and pollution contributed air toxins. Though recycling is growing, landfills are as well. Recycling increases parallel to population increase, but so does overall non-recyclable waste. Though recycling has not completely saved the environment, it is a good way to start the fight against trash deposits’ increase due to population increase.

The main point of recycling is to reuse already created materials more than once through personal reuse or melting and reformation of already created plastic. When a plastic is created and has only been used once, it is called virgin material. One of the main goals of recycling is to minimize the amount of virgin material created as it requires more power and work to create this material than it does to recycle already used material. Plastic bottle recycling could save 50 to 60 percent of the energy needed to make new ones. To give more insight to the amount of plastic that is present in the world, according to the Recycling Coalition of Utah, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times. (RCU, 2018) They also state that only about 25% of plastic made in the US is recycled, while if we recycled the other 75%, we could save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yards of landfill space (RCU, 2018). Recycling contributes to not only the conservation of the environment, it also contributes to the future use of fossil fuels and other needed resources.

There are many laws surrounding what can and can’t be recycled. Those that support recycling think that these laws are a great reason as to why recycling is beneficial. In Texas, there are not as many laws regarding recycling as there are in other states like Oregon or Oklahoma. The most common laws are Container Deposit Laws, or bottle bills and they are designed to reduce litter and capture bottles, cans, and other containers for recycling. Jennifer Schultz gives information on the state beverage container deposit laws on the National Conference of State Legislature site. Ten states and Guam have a deposit-refund system for beverage containers. Deposit amounts vary from two cents to 15 cents, depending on the type of beverage and volume of the container..

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