Posting in Cities
Americans: wondering why your neighbors don't recycle, wasting energy and resources? Here's an infographic that explains why.
Recycling programs have been around for decades, and most Americans know that reuse saves resources and energy. Yet, just half of U.S. population recycles daily, and 13 percent don't recycle at all. There is a 96% energy savings from reprocessing aluminum, 21% for glass, 45% for newsprint, and above 75% for common plastics, according to Popular Mechanics.
Some of the top reasons why Americans don't recycle more frequently aren't surprising. If the option to recycle isn't readily available, people just don't recycle. While I was a steadfast recycler living in the suburbs, I'll admit that I now fall into that category sometimes. The bins in the lobby downstairs frequently overflow, and my compact New York City apartment is too small for storage.
Here's an infographic based off of an Ipsos Public Affairs study:
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Apr 9, 2012
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I hope people don't start dumping cat litter in their recycling or compost containers after seeing this. Ipsos' news release about the survey mentions that some cat litter is made with recycled materials (newsprint). That does not make it recyclable after the cat has used it, however. Cat waste and pathogens do not make for good post-consumer feedstock for new products. As for trophies and crayons, that's a maybe. In some places crayons may be accepted curbside for recycling, but certainly this is not widespread across the U.S. And trophies, depending upon what they are made of, may or may not be recyclable. This maybe yes/maybe no depending upon content and markets, etc. just adds to the confusion.
Los Angeles citizens with city recycling containers recycle more than almost any community in the country. The reason is simple - no sorting. All recyclable objects can be placed in the same container. On the other hand there is also a bottle deposit ("CRV") law that encourages pilferage of glass and plastic bottles. In a typical neighborhood like mine, my recycling container will be visited and emptied of every last of the most valuable bottles and cans several times before the truck arrives in the early morning hours.
That not all recycling actually saves money. I'd have to find the list again, but the methods of recycling some items, costs more than the savings of having recycled items. ie: the process to clean, break down, and re-use costs more time, energy, money, and even materials than actually making a new product. Now, I'm not saying all recycling is useless, or not cost-effective. Some break even, and a few rare ones ( unless many methods have improved greatly the last 5 years, which could be), actually are truly effective. Of course, the other reason being, with as swamped in our lives as Americans are, taking that extra time to sort, like BitwiseCGU suggests, is just too much more time out of their day to find any real benefit in doing the recycling. (as an aside, check out Penn & Teller's Bullsh!t! show from Showtime. They have an episode on just this)
The only way I see recycling becoming more widely adopted is for the "in stream" method to be used. Here in Las Vegas, NV, our trash company plucks out the recyclable materials from the garbage - requiring no additional handling of refuse for its customers. Perfect, because otherwise recycling would require too much time and effort. With six+ garbage cans in my house, having separate bins for different types of trash would be, to say the least, impractical...and sorting through garbage when transferring into the main bin for pickup - yuck...No way!
I pay for curb side pickup of recyclables but I still can't recycle as much as I'd like. The sanitation company that does the pickup is picky about plastics. Just because it has a recycle symbol on it doesn't mean they will take it. They have specific rules for plastics so it limits how much I can get recycled. It can only be a bottle or a jug that didn't contain anything toxic like motor oil or chemicals...nothing else.
Just the other day I was driving down the street on trash day and one of my neighbors had two huge cardboard boxes sticking out of the top of their garbage toter. They didn't even bother to collapse the boxes! They just threw them in as-is, and they have a green recycling toter just like the rest of us. I can't explain why people do this other than sheer laziness. Drives me nuts!
I use paper that I have shredded for cat litter. I don't purchase it. It becomes too costly and frankly too fake. My cat wees on paper no issue! At least it will breakdown, unlike some cat crystals on the market.
Maybe you can look at recycling as something that doesn't necessarily needs to be cost-effective. IMO most of the times environmental benefits must mask any financial disadvantage.
You must be kidding. You have to walk to your garbage bin anyway, so where is the extra effort in choosing which bin you're going to throw you garbage in, if you're already standing in front of them? That's just sheer laziness you're talking about! Where I live, the whole country effectively sorts it's garbage before it's collected, no problem at all! We have paper, a bag for plastics/metals (where the metals get picked out by a magnet when they're processed), a bag for compostables and a bag for everything else. We also need to carry our glass to collectors that can be found at public places. You produce this amount of waste anyway so it's not that this takes up extra space in your house/apartment. I must add that we can get a fine if you don't sort correctly, which is always a good motivator (and in this case: a good policy).
Yes, they are. We have a similar issue in Austin. Just because an item is recyclable doesn't mean that there is an outlet that recycles it in my area. Adding to that is that, in the case of Austin, the municipal recycling program is ridiculously expensive, and operates at a financial loss, and collects more recyclables than can be readily recycled. My recycling bin is larger than my garbage bin, but only gets collected half as often. Even so, it's barely large enough, and we rarely fill the garbage bin.