Thursday, April 9, 2009

Recycling: Not as Beneficial as We Thought?

Recycling turns out to have it's own environmental problems. According to Baird, landfills are reaching their maximum levels and most countries are opposed to burning the excesses. Some countries have even started to hold legal responsibility to companies for the recollection and recycling of the packaging of their products.

Resistance to recycling comes mainly from the plastics industry. They argue that unused plastic material is cheaper to produce than it is to prepare used plastics for recycling. Contrary to this, environmentalists argue that the plastics industry does not factor in the environemental costs into their price projection of recycling the plastic. They also note that burning some plastics releases more toxic organic compounds and hydrogen chloride (HCl) gas, which readily dissolves in water, can be extremely damaging to human health.

Developed countries utilize recycling abundantly. The most commonly recycled plastics are HDPE, LDPE, and PET. In the late '90s, nearly half of people living in urban areas recycled with programs providing curbside pickup.

So with all this in mind, is recycling still beneficial? Is it something that will help us in our attempts to become more earth-friendly? These are just some of the questions that arise from this reading. There are issues that we must learn to deal with and adapt our methods in order to effectively combat the damage that has already been done.

Baird, Colin. The recycling of plastic is a controversial topic. Chemistry in Your Life. 2nd ed. New York: W. H. Freeman, 2006: 190-91

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