Is Recycling Worth the Effort in the 21st Century?

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Is Recycling worth the Effort in the 21st Century?

Is recycling worth the effort in the 21st century and what is recycling? The definition of recycle given by dictionary is “to pass again through a series of changes or treatments ; to process (as liquid body waste, glass, or cans) in order to regain material for human use ; to reuse or make (a substance) available for reuse for biological activities through natural processes of biochemical degradation or modification”.

Recycling has been around for thousands of years. Not only do people recycle but nature has been recycling plants, trees, insects and creatures for as long as there has been nature. We recycle mostly because it is the smart thing to do for our earth but it also helps save energy, creates jobs and reduces many of our problems with litter and trash. In 1031 Japan was the first country recorded to use waste paper for making new paper. In 1776 America declared its independence from England and they advertised for scrap metals like iron kettles and pots to melt down for their weapons. In 1865 The Salvation Army started in England and they start collecting and recycling unwanted goods of all kinds and they give jobs to the poor and uneducated and then it comes to the United States in the 1890’s. In 1904 the first aluminum can recycling plant opens in Chicago and in Cleveland Ohio and the all aluminum can is introduced in 1964. The value of the aluminum can starts a huge recycling system and for redeeming the used beverage containers. Landfills came about in the 1940's and 1950's when these huge areas became available and they were very popular because of the it was to easy to toss unused products away. No one knew at that time how they would grow and multiply to how they are today. In 1965 the Solid Waste Disposal Act is passed by Congress which recognizes trash as a national issue and to develop programs to state and local governments with disposal programs. In the 1970’s the fist national Earth Day is held on April 22, 1970 and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is created to response to the public’s concern for the environment and waste disposal. In the early 70’s the PET plastic bottle is also introduced and starts replacing many glass bottles but recycling for PET plastic bottles does not start until 1977. It is not until the late 80’s that Rhode Island is the first state to pass a mandatory recycling law for aluminum and tin cans, glass, plastic bottles and newspapers where residents and businesses must separate these items from the regular trash and recycle.

As stated by the White House Task Force on Recycling in 1998; Recycling is everybody’s business. From industry to government, from schools to our very own households, America’s commitment to recycling has helped keep our communities clean and our economy strong. Federal agencies are further reducing waste generation, increasing recycling, and increasing purchases of recycled products. Working together, there is even more we can do. Today, we challenge every American to step forward, take action, and contribute to this important national effort. By bringing new partners to the recycling efforts of businesses and families across the nation, we will better protect our natural resources, improve our quality of life, and strengthen our economy.

So is recycling worth it? Michael Shapiro, director of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Solid Waste states “A well-run curbside recycling program can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $150 per ton…trash collection and disposal programs, on the other hand, cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 per ton. This demonstrates that, while there’s still room for improvements, recycling can be cost-effective.” Many people still say it costs more than it is worth. John Tierney wrote in the New York Times Magazine that Recycling is Garbage and stated "Mandatory recycling programs offer mainly short-term...
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