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Recycling is a process that involves processing used materials into new products to mainly prevent the waster of potentially useful materials. It is a key component in the waste hierarchy that includes Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. John Tierney writer for the New York Times magazine considers recycling a wasteful activity and in his article “Recycling is garbage” New York Times magazine 30 June 1996, he outlines the principal elements that make recycling not a very useful activity in the long run though it might seem to be a very good idea. In 1987, a barge named the Mobro 4000 wandered thousand of miles in the ocean trying to unload its carry that was Long Islanders’ trash. This journey eventually had a great effect on the American people who suddenly became obsessed with handling their own waste personally. They concluded that the only option was recycling their waste since they believed that there was no more room for the landfills that were used as places where garbage was disposed off. The landfills were considered to be the simplest and also the cheapest option since garbage was buried in an environmentally safe area. In the same year a crisis emerged that prompted the Americans to encourage recycling of waste since the landfills were faced with shortage. John Tierney argues that since the 1987 crisis was a false alarm the need of making recycling legal or important is not necessary since the recycling activity only offers short term benefits to a few groups of people who include politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations and waste handling corporations. He sees this as an activity used to defraud people their money in order for some few individuals to become rich and benefit them only.

Recycling can be viewed as a wasteful process but it actually saves resources and reduces trash. In John’s article on “recycling is garbage”, the director of environmental education for the Environmental Action Coalition Joanne Dittersdorf is seen to talk to fifth class students on recycling. She argues out that recycling can benefit the community by reducing the harm that the landfills can cause to the society. This is demonstrated when she uses the case of the Love canal which was an old landfill that was owned by a chemical company. The landfill was sold and a school was built on it and sadly everyone that went to the school got very sick. This was because of the poison that was underneath the landfill. The situation could be avoided if recycling was used and the school could have been built on an environmental free area causing no harm to the people who went to that school.

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It is seen that a lot of wrapping is normally used in food stores which is unnecessary and also many trees are cut out on weekly basis for the production of the New York Times. The use of plastic packages can be beneficial since it can be easily recycled and also it occupies less space in the landfills as compared to the other packaging materials. Discovery has also shown that paper, cardboard and other organic materials while technically biodegradable tend to remain intact in the airless confines of a landfill. They also use up a lot of space than the plastic packaging which has been getting smaller. The need for bigger space for the landfills made huge companies to start business since the municipal dumps closed due to lack of space for the landfills. This caused the towns to send their garbage elsewhere and paid higher prices for the scarce landfill space used to throw the garbage. Due to the opening of many landfills in many areas by the private investors the cost of sending the garbage to the landfills has decreased and this has led to disposal of garbage in the landfills to be cheaper than recycling it. Today much of the landfills trash are filled mostly with harmless materials though studies have shown that small amounts of hazardous materials are still contained in the landfills and the poisons stay trapped inside the garbage.

Economists argue that it is uneconomical to use human labour to save raw materials that are cheap today and will probably be cheaper tomorrow. They see no use in recycling materials which are readily available and to make things even worse to use a lot of money in recycling materials which is far much great than the cost of manufacturing the same new product. Recycling is seen to be a program that consumes resources by requiring many personnel and activities to enable its success. The officials who encourage recycling are given funds by the government to enable the smooth flow of the recycling process and unfortunately they are seen not to fully account for the costs. This according to Tierney John is a huge expense that can be avoided by simply using the landfills to dispose the trash.

The process of recycling is associated with many questions the most important being if it is worth the effort and Julian Parfitt, the principal analyst at Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is constantly being asked the same question. Their organization normally encourages recycling and develops markets for the recycled materials. A study conducted by WRAP that included investigation of 55 life-cycle analyses all of which were selected because of their rigorous methodology. The researchers looked at more than 200 scenarios comparing the impact of recycling with that of burying or burning particular types of waste materials. This research came to a conclusion that in 83% of all the scenarios that included recycling it was indeed better for the environment. This shows that recycling helps to safeguard the environment from pollution which might be hugely caused by the use of the landfills. This cause environmental pollution and also poses a threat to humans living nearby the landfills and this can be controlled by recycling the materials instead of just throwing them away. This study also showed that Britain’s recycling efforts reduced its level of carbon-dioxide emissions by 10m-15m per year which is equivalent to a 10% reduction in the level of carbon-dioxide emissions in Britain. Also in America the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that in 2005 recycling had reduced the country’s carbon emissions by 49m tonnes.

Recycling also has other benefits associated with it. It is useful in conserving the natural resources and it reduces the amount of waste materials that is burnt or either buried. The landfills used to dispose off this waste produce dangerous gases that can cause harm to the natural resources. Burning of waste which results in production of carbon-dioxide gas result in the destruction of the ozone layer which is considered as a natural resource since upon destruction can hardly be repaired. This can be avoided or greatly reduced by use of recycling of the waste which instead of being burnt is made useful in the creation of new products and at the same time conserving the natural resources. Jeffrey Morris an employee in Sound Resource Management, a consulting firm based in Olympia, Washington states that if we can use recycled materials we do not have to mine ores, cut trees or even drill for oil as much as we do.

The process of metal extraction from the ore normally involves a lot of energy and recycling of metals such as aluminium for instance can reduce the energy consumption as much as by 95%. This is an advantage as the energy saved can be used elsewhere productively and also saving of energy translates to a lot of money being saved which can be directed to other more useful tasks.

The recycling process has been used for centuries and it has become a very important process in the society. Metal items have been recycled for thousands of years by melting them and reforming them into new weapons or tools to use in the community especially in homes or for assisting in the economic activities which included farming and hunting. The tools made from the recycled metals were used for farming or hunting which were the activities that the ancient people actively involved themselves in. The most significant recycled item was the broken pieces of the Colossus of Rhodes, a statute deemed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. This was considered to be a product of recycled scrap. Recyclers formed businesses during the industrial revolution and later on formed trade associations which dealt with collection, trade and processing of paper and metal. America’s Institute of Scrap Recycling is one of the organizations that emerged from the trade associations dating back to 1913 when it was founded. During the famous Great Depression many people were surviving by peddling of metals scraps, rags and other items. The process also was useful in the Second World War when metal was recycled and used to make weapons.

It can easily be seen that even though recycling has some challenges from many players, it remains to be the only better known solution to the growing rate of the waste that is produced all over the world. Recycling can be used to save energy, raw materials and also it greatly reduces pollution by providing a friendly environment for disposing the waste materials. Manufacturers should be informed on how to produce easily disposable products and also products that can be easily recycled and pose no danger to our environment and the scarce natural resources that are available. The truth about recycling is that it is really worth the effort.

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