Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Can We Afford to Recycle?

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Importing garbage for energy is good business for Sweden from Sweden on Vimeo.

Ellen Smyth, the Director of our city's Environmental Services, sent me a link to a very provacative article: American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why. It is well worth taking time to read (and it won't take but a few minutes). First bottom line: prices for recycled goods have been dropping which means that the business of recycling is becoming less profitable. Second bottom line: guess who pays to make up the difference?

I've often wondered why El Paso and other municipalities don't use the practice of cities in the Seattle (King County), Washington area. People get three small bins: one for paper, one for plastics and metals and one for glass. On pick-up day the bins are placed curbside and are distributed in three different compartments of the collection truck. Nevertheless, there are are still those falling commodity prices.

It isn't all bad as the article explains. There are some silver linings. But shouldn't we ask ourselves whether we should be recycling differently or recycling less items.

If you haven't visited the City of El Paso curbside recycling pages, please do so by starting HERE and following the links. It clearly tells us what we can and cannot recycle and has some helpful videos.

It's time to have a serious debate about garbage to energy. The Swedish program is exemplary. (Want to talk about alternative sources of energy? Here you go.) 

Is garbage to energy green? In Sweden there really is no debate and their process scrubs down emissions to more than meet standards.

Finally, are there ways that we can reuse or repurpose some of the items that we recycle? You can get creative. There are plenty of suggestions such as HERE and HERE. (Just Google "reusing recyclables".) 

We can even build using recyclables. (Now Google "building with recyclables".) I liked Build Your House From Recycled Materials from Mother Earth News. Can you imagine the pushback if we attempted to change building codes to allow recyclables? There would be much screaming and moaning and gnashing of teeth. 

However, it it time to start thinking outside of the cardboard box.

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1 comment:

  1. El Paso has such a long way to go in solving all of our problems with recycling. We need to support groups like the Sierra Club, Keep El Paso Beautiful and others who are trying to help our city solve many of its recycling problems. We need a ban on plastic bags. We need to fine people who are not properly using the Blue containers and come up with a system that rewards homeowners and businesses who cut down on their trash and recycle more. Why not? Why should a person with little trash and who recycles more pay as much for trash collection as the person who does not? Why can't we have a deposit on glass containers, plastic bottles and cans like they have in states like New York?