There have been increased environmental pollution all over the world, and most of the countries accuse the US of high pollution percentage. The American community on the other hand has been faced with a garbage crisis, on top of other pollution crisis. The garbage problem has been fueled because many people do not give much attention to garbage problem as the attention given to issues such as politics and abortion. America is on of the countries that have got a highest amount of garbage disposal both from the industries and households. This kind of garbage is too much for the country without a proper disposal mechanism to manage.
The garbage problem is not an issue that develops overnight. It has been taking place for quite sometime, various solutions coming up, but seems not to work. Most of the solutions have not been offering long-term solutions thus cannot be depended upon for future solutions.
Some of the methods that have been used to control garbage increase include, landfills and transferring garbage to other areas. With landfills, it seemed to work in the initial stages. But given the rate at which the selected landfills have been getting full, it becomes a non-reliable long term solving problem. Transferring garbage from one place to another brings a lot of cost that could be avoided easily. A part from cost problem, finding a good dumping site is a problem too. This is because it is not possible to take garbage from one place to another place without much resistant from the people in that area because they also need to solve their own garbage problems.
To deal with the problem of garbage in the society, it is good to deal the casual agent i.e. handle the source that is directly responsible for the problem. One best way to deal with the source is by reducing the garbage production, reusing and recycling the garbage.
Many people have not bothered to put effort in fighting the problem of garbage. Therefore, the state can use laws to ensure that the environment is protected. One way is making the recycling of garbage to be mandatory. This research paper looks on ways that the mandatory recycling can play role to prevent further environmental degradation.
Effects of Dumping
Garbage accumulation can cause a lot of environmental problems. This in the end will affect the health of both human beings and other living organisms. For instance, disposal sites can contaminate ground wastes, surface water and water system of the city, especially if leaking of chemicals occurs in the dumping sites. Dumping can also cause sealing of the ground surface and thus bring about flooding in an area. Furthermore, dumping sites have been an attraction site for wild animals such as rats, dogs and birds. Most of these animals cause diseases when they come in contact with human beings.
Most organizations especially those dealing with production of non – biodegradable materials have been contributing to the problems of dumping. They are the first organizations to go against efforts put forth to control environmental problems wherever they feel that the policy put forth will be costly to them. For instance according to OECD (2006),
plastic packaging materials are expensive to recycle. Because different resins cannot be mixed, the materials must be sorted and processed separately. This labor-intensive process increases costs considerably. Even when prices for recycled materials are favorable, many companies cannot use recycled plastic because it is of lower quality and consistency than virgin materials” (pp 127).
To these proponents, they put economic matter at hand, rather than environmental problems, which can affect the health of all humans in the long run. OECD continues to argue that,
Because of lightness of plastic waste, transport costs are important in determining whether recycling will take place, and whether or not it is beneficial overall. For example, LCA analysis of plastics reclining undertaken …find that net returns are negative; -£ 7 per tone for PET, – £ 3 for HDPE, – £ 4 for PVC … There is therefore little economic incentive to use potentially contaminated PCR if virgin is available for a similar or even lower price (pp 127).
Having looked at the effects of dumping garbage in the environment, it is obvious that it will have a negative effect on the health of the human beings in the long run. It is also apparent that organizations dealing with materials that are dangerous to the environment are not yet ready to undertake recycling as compared to dumping, which seems cheaper.
Household members, private business organizations and the government organizations should undertake measures to reduce environmental dumping problems. In controlling this problem, people should be encouraged to undertake voluntary recycling and if not the government’s option is to impose a mandatory recycling rule.
In voluntary recycling, “each household balances its individual net cost of recycling against the benefit of lower disposal costs”, (Dinan, 1995 pp.20). In this case, the household will be able to make trade off since they will be able to know how much they have inconvenienced due to recycling.
Under mandatory recycling, it will be a prerequisite for all households and organizations to recycle whether the program’s costs exceeds the saving or not. There are various advantages associated with mandatory recycling at the household level. One of the advantages is that when the recycling is made mandatory to the collectors is that; they do not need to make the program convenient to the households; rather it will be a responsibility of the house hold to make sure that they follow all the procedures and policies promptly. Under voluntary recycling, The level of participation at the house hold level in not easy to predict as the enthusiasm for recycling rises and falls over time, (Dinan, 1995 pp 20).
According to Dinan’s arguments, “mandatory recycling programs may be perceived as being more fair than voluntary programs, since all households are required to do their share”, (Pp20). There are many cities with a voluntary recycling program but many people have not signed up for it. Therefore, the city has to consider whether every body in the city should have blue carts at their houses and thus, incur the higher annual garbage bills that come with it.
Despite all these, the authorities still encourage the household to sort more of their household wastes before they reach the dustbin. But “following Barnet Council’s lead in march 2005, a significant number of local authorities now operate some form of compulsory recycling scheme, requiring separation into specified containers , under powers contained in the Environmental Protection Act of 1990”, ( Starkey, 1990, pp 19).
In some cases, cities have been avoiding to introduce the mandatory recycle practices for fear of failure, but according to Langston (2006), “two months after Seattle began enforcing its mandatory recycling ordinance, garbage haulers and city inspectors have found few violations of a law that some feared would be difficult to enforce and follow”, (Para 1). The law in Seattle town required that all recyclables should not be found in the apartments. The recyclables include paper, cardboard and yard waste. If it happens that such wastes are found in the garbage then the council leaves a notice tag to the law-breaker. If it is again found on the second and third time, a fine of $50 is imposed.
Mandatory recycling has so many advantages that cannot just be over looked upon. There have been increased cases of green house gas effect in the environment. This has led to the changing climates, which cannot be easily predicted. The climatic conditions have mostly affected the sectors of the economy that depends on the climatic conditions, such as agriculture. Therefore, mandatory recycling would end up reducing green house gases in many ways. One such case is recycling aluminum drink cans. Aluminum can production is mostly associated with a lot of emission of green house gasses. Therefore with recycling, there won’t be much production, hence such gasses would not be emitted, saving the environment of green house effects.
Another way of saving the environment of green house is through recycling of papers. A high paper production means cutting down many trees to get enough raw materials. But when papers are recycled, then there will be less cutting of trees. Trees are a good source of absorbing green house gases in the atmosphere and would thus save the environment much of the effects of greenhouse gases. According to Clifford (2007), “almost 35% of all green house gases are emitted while gathering the raw materials needed for manufacturing process. Additionally gathering raw materials is responsible for almost 60% of air and water pollution”, (pp105). Therefore with mandatory recycling law in place, recyclable materials would be used more in production process and thus making it easier and cheaper reducing the gas emission and the general effect of greenhouse gases.
Packaging system in the United States has increased the amount of trash produced. “The average household in the united states generates one third less trash each year than does the average household in Mexico, partly because packaging reduces breakage and food wastage,” (Benjamin, 2003, Para 9). For instance in the case of chicken produced commercial, the waste goes into marketable product instead of being taken to a landfill. In this packaging 1000 chicken requires about 17 pounds of packaging but also recycles about 2000 pounds of by products, (Benjamin, 2003). In this case, the number of packaging has been steadily rising. Therefore with this kind of packaging, it can only be fully recycled if the state puts mandatory recycling systems or else the land fills will be full with such trash which can be easily recycled.
When materials have been used and destroyed, it means that there is need to extract new materials. “This in turn causes more virgin resources to be mined, extracted and processed to replace them,” (Platt & Seldman, 200 pp7). This extraction of raw materials is continuously causing problems because the raw materials are not sustainable and seem to be headed for depletion. For instance, according to Platt and Seldman, “ while economic assessments show a doubling of global wealth between 1970 and 1995, a report from the World Wildlife Fund estimated that in the same period the earth had lost on third of its natural capital” (pp7).
Apart from protecting the environment, recycling is also an economic development tool. When the communities undertake recycling, they get direct development opportunities. This is because when the process of recycling is undertaken in a good way, it can contribute to local revenue, provide job creation, expand business and thus offer a local economic base.
According to Platt & Neil (2000),
on a per ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than land filling or incineration. However, making new products from old offers the largest economic pay off in the recycling loop. New recycling-based manufactures employ even more people and at higher wages than does sorting recyclables. Some recycling – based paper mills and plastic products manufacturers for instance, employ on a per ton basis 60 times more workers than do land fills, (Pp34).
Another thing that makes the government to undertake mandatory recycling procedures over voluntary recycling is the legal binding involved. In the voluntary recycling, there is no legal binding that can force an individual or an organization to recycle garbage; hence the target aimed in the recycling procedure might not be achieved. Further more, companies cannot be guaranteed of going beyond the usual business activities under the voluntary system. According to Geller (2002), “voluntary agreements tend to be more effective when companies fear that they will face tighter policies, such as taxes or regulations should they fail to establish and meet strong voluntary targets”, (pp65). On the other hand, companies will only undertake voluntary recycling if they feel that it will have competitive advantage to them. To achieve better results in the voluntary service, it will mean that there has to be frequent monitoring and evolution of the practices in the organizations and as well as awarding the best performing organization.
Food recycling can also be undertaken by feeding food remains to animals such pigs. This is both economical to the pig farmer as well as being environmental friendly. This food processing recycling industry can only remain viable if certain public policy including mandatory recycle are defined and put in place (Assaf – Anid, 2001, pp122).
Waste prevention, reuse and recycling in the United States have made tremendous improvement in the past years. Despite the many benefits of recycling that have been found than previously thought, there are a few people and organization that still are not ready to under take voluntary garbage regale, due to the cost they see associated with it.
Therefore, it is not prudent for the government to allow continued environmental degradation due to disposals that can be recycled. The best option is that all states should pass laws and regulation that will see mandatory recycling put in place and governed to reduce the environmental problems and thus guarantee a sustainable future.
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