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Improper Recycling and Its Effects

Introduction

In recent years, climate emergencies have been declared a crucial issue with the plastic waste’s devastating effects on the environment and wildlife increasing the recycling need. In the society where people consider the concepts of sustainability, recycling provides the conversion of things thrown away into new ones. Therefore, it ensures that neither the raw materials nor the energy employed in making the items are left to waste, further preventing the ground and air pollution. However, if recycling is not done properly, the benefits associated with it may not be achieved.

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Importance of Recycling

Some materials that can be recycled in Fresno are plastic, glass, paper, and metal. Fresno has also been working towards meeting California State’s mandate that demands a reduction of up to 50% of the total waste sent to landfills (Lim-Wavde et al. 91). The necessity of recycling is determined by the safety of the environment. Through recycling, natural resources, the environment, and the entire planet are protected. Plastic, for instance, is made from a mixture of crude oil and natural gas. After being taken to a landfill, plastic can last more than 700 years to decompose and disappear completely, making it necessary to recycle it (Lim-Wavde et al. 103).

Similarly, a considerable number of trees are destroyed every day, and wood unsuitable for lumber is used in paper production. That is why paper should be recycled as well to prevent further massive forest destruction for this industry. It utilizes less energy in comparison with the situation when the paper is manufactured from fresh timber. Recycled paper can be used as printing paper, writing paper, fibreboard, animal bedding, egg cartons, flower pots, building insulation, roofing products, tissue, packing materials, among others.

Society can derive various benefits from its ability to conduct proper recycling of its waste. First, recycling ensures that natural resources are preserved as old items are used to make new ones instead of raw materials. Secondly, the energy used in recycling materials is less compared to the extraction, transportation, as well as processing of raw materials involved in making new products, saving energy (Makridis 248). Additionally, the recycling plants can create more jobs when more recycling is done. This ranges from jobs in the new product design, packaging, and the involved innovation as well as technology.

Consequences of Improper Recycling

At the same time, improper recycling has multiple negative consequences. First of all, the improper disposal of hazardous materials leads to the contamination of water, air, and soil. For instance, the leaching of toxins affects groundwater, soil and produces toxic gases. Further, recycling lowers the waste levels sent to landfills because when waste overstays and rots in a landfill, the environment is polluted in various ways. For instance, the leaching of toxins from the waste pollutes the soil, groundwater and produces gases like methane that contribute to global warming. In the United States, all recyclables are collected in a common facility.

From the facility, people and machines are responsible for sorting and separating recyclable materials, an incredibly difficult process for workers. Plastic bags are likely to tangle around the rotating machines at the recycling facility. This breaks down the machine forces workers to climb up the machine and remove it by hand, making their job unsafe.

Further, whenever a center is forcefully stopped to disentangle the present non-recyclables, severe delays are experienced in the facility, which can be expensive in the long run. Therefore, improper recycling can decrease efficiency because these unwanted materials interfere with an efficient process running smoothly (Lim-Wavde et al. 103). In addition, some materials, including needles, garbage found in the bins, and scrap metals, present a hazardous environment to the workers who may handle them. Some of these items could be of a size that can hurt a worker if it falls. Some materials that are non-recyclable can cause irreparable damage to the equipment, and to some extent, some may cause a fire.

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Repairs to the equipment can sometimes be costly to an extent the firm cannot meet. Further, each time the equipment has to stop, the effectiveness of the involved processes is decreased, resulting in the need for a backup plan, which may also be costly. Therefore, improper recycling can cause damage to both equipment and the employees.

Another consequence of improper recycling is the contamination of other recyclable materials. Some items like unwashed jars, broken glasses, and greasy containers can lead to the contamination of the whole recyclable material load (Lim-Wave 99). The toxic load attracts other problems such as the creation of unsanitary conditions, the attraction of pests, among others. Further, when this load of recyclable materials is presented to a buyer, the buyer can refuse to accept it entirely because of contamination. Should this become a trend, this can affect the recycling industry economically since the employees have to be paid, and other operating costs will have to be met. Therefore, decreased profitability will lead to increased recycling service costs.

Conclusion

The effects of improper recycling that have been discussed in this paper pose a great danger to the well-being of society. However, consumers are responsible for avoiding the various consequences of improper recycling because of the impacts of their actions. Their actions can affect the recycling centers as well as the various opportunities created by proper recycling. For the residents of Fresno and the entire US to experience the benefits of recycling, they should take both individual and collective responsibility in ensuring that improper recycling is avoided.

Works Cited

Lim-Wavde, Kustini, et al. “Household Informedness and Policy Analytics for the Collection and Recycling of Household Hazardous Waste in California.” Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 120, 2017, pp. 88-107.

Makridis, Christos A. “Is Recycling Effective? Evidence from California between 2004 and 2017.” Land Economics, vol. 97, no. 1, 2021, pp. 246-261.

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