Despite their best efforts, many towns and municipalities have been unable to coax their residents to recycle more than 30% of their waste stream . The problem presented is twofold – some items can simply not be recycled – their design is inherently flawed; other items can be recycled, but it is not convenient to do so. These may be items which the town does not collect directly (batteries and e-waste often fall into this category), and may have to be sent to a transfer station for proper recycling. Oftentimes, the consumer is away from home when the recyclable item is purchased and used – soft drink plastic bottles and aluminum cans are some examples.
It is important to recycle items even when it is not convenient. Each plastic bottle that is thrown out will spend eternity in a landfill – or worse, it may make its way to our rivers or oceans, where it will join with other floating pieces of plastic in the growing “oceanic garbage patches” which are now found in every ocean on earth.
Many towns, schools and organizations now use single stream recycling, or zero-sort waste to deal with their recyclables. This vastly increases the ease with which people can recycle – in addition, single-stream recycling usually accepts a greater variety of products. Other tools to boost recycling include banning the pickup of recyclables in the trash, or charging for pickup of trash, while keeping recycling free.
Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR, puts the responsibility for recycling of products back on the companies that produced the product in the first place. This is an excellent practice, since it starts producers thinking about the end life of a product, as well as discouraging the practice of producing disposable or cheap goods.
- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (petchary.wordpress.com)