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Lately the earth's capacity to tolerate exploitation and absorb solid wastes disposal has
diminished, due to excess trashing. People dispose lots of stuff, and simply do not care.
Therefore scientists found out a way to reuse things and that process was called
"recycling". This new approach seemed quite successful at the beginning, until its true
identity appeared. Recycling first started as man's best friend, people were intrigued by
this new phenomena. What could be better than using things that were already used.
Recycling has been very useful especially that man is constantly consuming, burning up,
wearing out, replacing and disposing at an alarming rate.(Durning 1992). However,
unfortunately recycling has proven that it is quite costly. Although recycling of wastes
material solves the problem of garbage disposal at landfills, and saves resources, it does
nevertheless entail large hidden costs in collecting, sorting and manufacturing; therefore,
it is necessary for the go!

vernment to overcome such problems of recycling to be worth while and for
manufacturers and consumers to consume less.

Recycling has proven its efficiency in solving the problem of garbage disposal at
landfills1. By the accumulation of garbage throughout the years, space available for
garbage has largely diminished. In the states for example almost 67% of their waste
stream ends up in landfills.(Scott 25). This has in fact increased the price of disposal. As
Kimball stated "tipping fees" at landfills, is so often prohibitive(3), and some cannot find
landfills to dump their garbage. It can cost up to $158 to pick a ton of garbage and
dispose it.(Consumer Reports 1994). Beside, these landfills pollute their surroundings
area with lots of hazardous materials and contaminate underground water. To discover
the contamination of the underground water it would be 12 yeas after the poisons-
benzene; formaldehyde; mercury; and BCEE- have actually contaminated the land, and
had sunk 24 feet into the ground contaminating about 50 million gallons of underground
water.(Dahir 94). Besides these lands could b!

e used in more useful ways such as building schools, hospitals, or simply turning them
into large green areas to purify the air. This problem is practically acute in Egypt, since
we do find even in central areas of the city, piles of garbage disposal very near to
residential areas. Recycling would therefore eliminate this problem and protect the

If we consider burning as an alternative, well it is not very advantageous, so often
burning is done in incinerators. According to Plenum, incineration is the process of
disposing of the "Combustible portion of the community wastes"(81). This burning
pollutes the air in the area around it. It is not the way to solve the problem of recycling
because it solving one problem by creating another which is air pollution. In this process
a number of pollutants are emitted which poisons the air. Carbon dioxide and lead are by
products of burning that most health organisations consider highly toxicating. These by
products affect children mentally and physically. In addition, carbon dioxide is
considered one of the main reasons of global warming because the molecule itself
captures heat an stores it in it thus creating the green house effect. Besides plastics are
rather toxicating when burnt according to Plenum, Acrylic type plastics emit HCN gas,
Bromine components that are added to pl!

astics results in the emission of HBr , which are all dangerous pollutants (157). Obviously
burning cannot be considered an alternative and as stated in Consumer Reports,
"Recycling does help to keep garbage out of landfills and incinerators, both of which
pose environmental problems."(Feb 1994). Although burning lessens the physical amount
of the waste materials, it is considered one of the easiest way to pollute the air.

Though these are great advantages to us and the environment, but recycling costs more
than you could imagine. A study found that when the cost of garbage is calculated by
volume, landfilling and recycling costs are roughly the same. Recycling does not appear
to save any money, this applies to most of the European countries and the United States
and studies have lately proven so. "Recycling is a good thing, but it costs
money."(Boerner and Chilton 7). This view has been confirmed by John E. Jacobson,
who is the president of AUS, a consulting firm in Philadelphia who stated that it is often
more expensive to recycle than to manufacture from raw material. The process goes
through lots of phases. First collecting and sorting garbage and second is manufacturing
and marketing. Collection is a phase by itself. In developed countries such as the States,
Europe, and the Far East, the people have a great deal of awareness of the situation.
People know that recycling is important and wo!

uld save us lots and lots of things. So the country itself provided facilities to help the
people recycle such as machines that recycle cans on the spot and gives 2.5 cents/can and
recycables-collecting programs and others. These collecting programs are costly, besides
they do not work in apartment buildings. Beside, vehicles that transport these materials
are not so cheap, besides most of these trucks' capacities are wasted by bulky objects.
Especially when trash contains a lot of plastic containers. More tractors more rounds are
required to collect recycables. This adds to the cost. "We took plastics out of recycling
programs because we could not afford to drive around with trucks with 45% of their
collection capacity taken up by air."(Consumer Reports 1994).

As for the sorting process it entails lots of man power and tools, both of which are very
expensive. The material cannot simply be all fed into one big machine and then "boom"
we have recycled material. No, every kind of material must be put alone then fed into big
recycling machines. This process of separation or sorting costs money. Manufacturers
have to hire labourers to sort out glass from aluminium from cardboard from tin and so
on. According to Consumer Reports, the sorting equipment and the man power involved
in the process is a big investment (1994). It is important to know that this process of
collecting and sorting is particularly expensive in developed countries where
sophisticated tools are used where man power is rather limited and expensive. However,
in developing countries like Egypt, the process of collecting and sorting are rather
primitive and is carried out by the "Zabaleen " or a second-hand car. This makes it less
expensive than developed countries.

Manufacturing and marketing is the second phase in this process. In order to build the
factories that do the recycling operation, the most important thing we must have is the
capital. Building these factories is quite expensive plus it takes time because the latest
technology must be applied in there. According to The Consumers Report, when garbage
is sorted it is sent to factories to be put in industry. These factories usually designed for
producing from raw material, need "retooling" so as to use recycled material; which is
very expensive. For example Union Carbide Inc., one of the nations major supplies of
plastic, had to spend 10 million dollars on building a factory that would recycle plastic
bottles it had produced (1994). Therefore to retool a factory to make it compatible with
the demands of recycling means machines in an old factory must be replaced with new
ones and this is costly. For some reason all the machinery in a recycling firm tend to ware
out so fast, it is !

due to the interaction of these materials. So what has to be done now is buy new
machines for these firms ever time they ware out, well that's cheap.

Another disadvantage of recycling which makes it unattractive is that for manufacturers
economically the recycled material is not highly demanded, it is not that pure as the
virgin material. In a grocery store in Los Angeles-where I was staying-most of the food is
kept in cardboard containers or boxes that are made out of recycled multimaterial . While
books and furniture that are made out of artificial wood and paper do not prefer the
usage of recycled material. According to Recycling is it worth the effort obstacles that
are faced due to the recycling of paper is that the recycled paper is of lower quality than
virgin paper for some uses.(94). This is a very good reason to look for an alternative
because recycled material cannot be used in projects that are worth while, such as books
and furniture. " In many cases, manufacturers would be forced to switch from
multimaterial packages, which are difficult to recycle, to homogeneous, single-layered
packaging."(Boener and Chil!

So if marketing of recycled products is not economically worthwhile, then the whole
process of recycling cannot be economically efficient. Manufacturers cannot be
motivated to recycle if their recycled products are not demanded. "We have got to be
realistic about some things" said Mitchell Alison, "we set goals with certain economies
in mind, we no longer have those economies, so we have got to revisit these goals."

What led most of the economists to look for a substitute for recycling is the inconsistent
quality of the products. The products of recycling are not as good as the original ones,
thus leading consumers to look for a substitute. This inconsistency is due to improper
sorting of material. People are expected to have a separate container for each thing that is
recycled. When people mess around and misplace things this is due to either untrained
employees who do not differentiate between the recycables or careless dumping. Careless
dumping a result of unconcern of the people themselves. Also the recycled products are
contaminated. Different kinds of paper or differently used aluminium cans when mixed
together to be recycled they do not produce a quality of the same kind. Recycled paper
faces four main obstacles, weak marketing for mixed paper, recycled paper is of lower
quality than virgin paper in some uses, con not be used indefinitely , and finally
photocopy, laser-printed pape!

r hard to de-ink.(Consumer Reports 94). It is not as good as using the virgin material thus
having low quality and less durability.

Recycling programs cost money, and where do you think this money comes from,
taxpayers' pockets. Taxpayers are the ones who are stuck paying for these programs, they
are forced to do so. A grocery store that uses recycled paper bags, plastic containers, and
tin cans must be able to pay for them, or increase the price of the product and the
consumer will pay of course because it is something humane and for the environment. To
prove that recycling expenses are a burden on consumers, a margarine producer switched
from plastic tubes to aluminium containers this led to an increase in the expenses of the
product thus increasing by 25% to reach 50%. Obviously this increase in price will be
passed on to the consumer increasing the price of the commodity.(Boener and Chilton
14). Most of the recycling organisations are non-profit organisations. Still it is expensive
to use recycled material that is because the recycled material costs much.

The government must have a role in all this, its role is to overcome such problems. These
programs must be financed by the government, but not in a way that the taxpayers have
to suffer. Also some materials are better dumped than recycled, the government should
look for the material that would cost the least to recycle and use it in most things. Such
researches should be conducted and financed by the government. The packaging industry
consumes a lot of paper and plastic, if this industry would consider using recycled
material and less packaging they would save a lot of energy, time and resources.
"Manufacturers of polycoated paper packages claim that recycling their products is both a
boon to source reduction efforts and an energy-efficient process."(Kimball 64). That is
what we all want a program that is cost efficient and saves energy. Also the taxpayers
should pay according to the amount of recycables each household recycles. It should not
be the same amount paid for each h!

ousehold because some people recycle less than others therefore they should pay less.
This way the government will create the suitable conditions to encourage recycling
programs and maybe help preserving the environment.

This rapid leap in our lives have led us to create recycling and hopefully it will lead us to
look for a way to better plan it. Better planing for recycling will help prevent the
problems faced now by recycling. If it could be made that it satisfies the needed
conditions previously mentioned, to be cost-efficient, not time consuming, and a better
quality of products, this would be like a dream come true. Recycling should be cost-
efficient because what all nations are facing are massive economical problems. Financing
these programs is one hell of a job and if it has to be done anyway, then we should at
least look for ways to make it cost efficient. People should learn to use and reuse, rather
than use and dispose. If we can use things more than once and could save energy then
why not do so. "Reuse means getting more use out of a product to reduce the waste
stream. Many so-called disposable items, such as plastic cups, knives, and forks, can
actually be washed and used several!

 times." (Scott 25). As we can see the benefits are over-estimated, and the costs are
under-estimated. What we should do is not only look for an alternative but also look for
other ways to improve recycling. The natural resources will not last for ever, eventually
everything comes to an end and the end is very near to our natural resources. What is of
greater importance is to find alternatives to such resources if they actually become
extinct. Recycling is backed by most of the general public, for its ideas of saving the
environment, energy, and virgin material. But it is not that good or that efficient it still
costs money and is not that safe. "Recycling does not necessarily provide for safer or
more environmentally sound disposal than landfilling or incinerators. The recycling
process itself generates enormous amounts of hazardous wastes."(Schaumburg 32). In
addition it will decrease and maybe solve the problem of the ever increasing pollution.
Imagine that every time som!

eone throws a piece of paper in the garbage is similar to a person cutting a leaf off a tree.
This is what happens when one does so, so recycling was the way to solve such a


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