The Consequences of not Recycling in Missouri

The planet Earth is truly astonishing. The Earth recycles everything and reuses the material from dead plants and animals to feed new plant life and to make new soil to replenish itself. But some things that are man-made take hundreds of years for the Earth to decompose. Humankind should try to do the same thing the Earth does: recycle. Trash has been overwhelming landfills and filling the lakes, ponds and rivers in Missouri and across the world. It’s up to humans to prevent this and ensure a better future.

Missourians generate 6.15 pounds of waste daily. That’s 37 percent above the national average of 4.5 pounds. According to the Missouri Department of National Resource’s 2006-2007 Waste Composition Study, nearly 45 percent of the municipal solid waste deposited in Missouri landfills could have been recycled. Some of the wastes in landfills included metals, paper, plastics, and glass. The study estimated that each year more than 1.9 million tons of recyclable materials were disposed of in Missouri landfills. That’s 1.9 million tons of materials that could have been recycled. It’s important to reduce, reuse, and recycle in order to get these numbers down and keep landfills from containmenting the environment. Ways to do this are donate old furniture, clothes, and other items to charities, start composting, take cloth bags to the store instead of getting plastic bags, and recycle anything that can be recycled.

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Illegal dumping has become an issue in Missouri. Abandoned piles of garbage can threaten the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment. These open dump sites can sadly be found throughout Missouri. They are often found at the bottom of ravines, in empty lots, in pastures, and along roadsides. If these dump sites are allowed to remain, they will grow larger and attract more dumping by others. These open dumps create a public nuisance and divert land from more productive uses. They also pose many health, safety and environmental threats. They can cause fire and explosion and they damage plant and wildlife habitats. They can contaminate streams, rivers, lakes, soil, groundwater, and drinking water wells. It’s important to report illegal dumping to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen.

Despite all of the advantages of recycling, there have been disagreements and attacks on it. Some people claim that the environmental benefits of recycling are overrated because it can lead to pollution. The recycling process alone produces a lot of pollutants and during the sorting process, metals and other chemicals may leach into the land and water. Some people say it is too costly. Manufacturing plants need to built and trucks are needed to haul the recycled materials. It costs $4,000 in the United States to recycle one ton of plastic bags. People argue that recycled products are often of lesser quality and are often too fragile or overused. They say products made from used and repurposed materials don’t have the same quality of new material. Contamination is also a big problem in the recycling industry. If there are any impurities or toxins on the original material, they’ll often make it through the recycling process and end up in the new product. Although these disadvantages exist, it’s still vital to reuse materials and improve and start new recycling programs.

When comparing what happens to items that are placed in trash cans with items that are placed in recycling bins, it’s clear to see the economic benefits that recycling has over landfilling. Trucks are needed to collect both trash and recyclables. Trash is hauled to a transfer station and then sent to a landfill. Recyclables are sent to a Materials Recovery Facility. The collection and hauling process is the same for both, but what happens after is what makes their economic impacts very different. The City of St. Louis for example spends $33.98 per ton to send trash to a landfill. If it goes to a recycling facility, only $15.60 per ton is spent. The reason for this is recyclables have value as a commodity, and that offsets the cost of processing them into marketable products. The money that is saved by recycling can then be used to cover the rising cost of providing Refuse Division services. It can also prevent the need to increase trash collection fees. Once trash is buried in a landfill, any value it may have had is lost. It also builds up and doesn’t always decay.

Items still have value when they are recycled. Manufacturers can recycle them into new products and then sell their products to consumers. This helps maintain and create jobs in both manufacturing and retail sectors. Recycling not only helps the environment, it helps the economy as well. Recycling sustains more jobs than landfills. On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling. In a study conducted by the University of Missouri, they found that there are approximately
16,000 people employed in 1,500 recycling businesses in the St. Louis Metropolitan area. This includes businesses involved with recycling collection and processing, salvage, manufacturing, retail, education and composting. The more we recycle, the more businesses are able to grow and continue to contribute to the local economy.

Electronics can take hundreds of years to decompose. Glass alone is estimated to take up to a million years to decay. Some electronic scraps can be classified as a hazardous must be regulated as a hazardous waste. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recognized the e-scrap management problems. They took steps to in order to reduce the risks on human health and the environment. The workgroup developed a strategy called e-cycle Missouri. E-cycle Missouri is a program designed to provide the public with information that is needed to recycle electronics. The program provides electronic equipment recyclers with best management practices for collecting, processing and transporting e-scrap in Missouri in a way that will protect the environment. There are also laws against electronics being discarded into landfills. It is recommended that electronics should be recycled or donated.

Not recycling results in pollution that will affect the planet future. The state of Missouri is working to ensure the environment is cleaner, safer, and healthier. To protect the wildlife and many lakes and other bodies of water, it’s essential to recycle. To read more about recycling in Missouri, visit the MORA website at www.MORA.. Humans must do their part to take care of the earth and recycle to guarantee a greater future for Missouri and the planet.

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