Why is Recycling Still a Hassle? by Callaghan TysonMayer

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Last week I moved into my first apartment in East Lansing, right outside MSU’s campus. It’s a beautiful environment and very well updated in all aspects except one: recycling. My complex only has a dumpster for landfill, but absolutely nothing for recyclables. I was shocked; I just assumed everywhere now had some type of recycling pickup. 

"just 10 plastic water bottles save enough energy to power a laptop for over 25 hours"
fullsizeoutput_cb8 - Callaghan Tysonmaye

My roommates and I decided to drive our recycling onto campus and throw it in the residential halls’ recycling dumpsters, but we ran into another small problem; a multi-stream recycling system. Each recycling center has different rules for sorting; MSU uses a multi-stream system that requires each item to be sorted.

I checked the EPA’s website out of curiosity and found that recycled materials are all transported to a facility to be sorted and cleaned before being processed. This was not surprising, but it was interesting to read that recyclables are bought and sold in the same manner as raw materials. With so much information about the environmental benefits of recycling, I hadn’t thought about the economic benefits.

The recycling industry has impacted our society in a myriad of ways; lessens waste, reduces pollution, saves energy, creates jobs, increases economic productivity, and many more. Recycling is estimated to be a $200 billion industry in the U.S. (https://www.recycleacrossamerica.org/recycling-facts).  The EPA estimates that recycling accounts for 757,000 jobs each year in America (https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics). This averages to $36.6 billion in wages and $6.7 billion in tax revenue. Along with economic advantages, the recycling industry does an incredible job saving energy; just 10 plastic water bottles save enough energy to power a laptop for over 25 hours (https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics), and recycling only 1 aluminum can saves enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours (https://www.recycleacrossamerica.org/recycling-facts). 


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