• Processing used materials into new products
in order to prevent waste of potentially useful
materials, reduce the consumption of fresh
raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce
air pollution (from incineration) and water
pollution (from landfills) by reducing the
need for quot;conventionalquot; waste disposal, and
lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared
to virgin production.
• Recycling is a key component of modern
waste management and is the third
component of the waste hierarchy.
Process of Recycling
– Drop-off centers
– Buy-back centers
– Curbside collection
– Based on material
History of Recycling
• Advocates date as far back as Plato in 400 BC.
• In pre-industrial times, scrap bronze and other
metals in Europe were melted down for perpetual
• In the 1970s, due to rising energy costs.
• Woodbury, New Jersey was the first city in the
entire United States to mandate recycling.
• In 1987, the Mobro 4000 barge hauled garbage
from New York to North Carolina; where it was
denied. Returning to New York the garbage was
– is often referred to as igniting the recycling hysteria of
• The Energy Information Administration
(EIA) stated on its website that “a paper
mill uses 40 % less energy to make paper
from recycled paper than it does to make
paper from fresh lumber.”
• It can take more energy to produce
recycled products than it does to dispose
of them in traditional landfill methods.
– i.e., Curbside Collection - done by a 2nd truck
– Proponents of recycling - it takes a 2nd truck to
drive the lumber
• How much energy is used in recycling
depends largely on the type of material
being recycled and the process used to do
• Aluminum cans are the only recyclable
material that save energy.
– The EPA states that quot;recycling aluminum cans
[…] saves 95 % of the energy required to make
the same amount of aluminum from its virgin
• Proponents Arguments
– Calculating using life cycle assessment finds
that recycled paper uses less energy and water
than harvesting, pulping, processing, and
transporting virgin trees.
– By using less recycled paper, additional
energy is needed to create and maintain
farmed forests until these forests are as self-
sustainable as virgin forests.
• Public policy analyst James V. DeLong points
out that recycling is a manufacturing process
and many of the methods use more energy
than they save.
– These processes need to be more efficient than
production from original raw material and/or
traditional garbage disposal in order for recycling
to be the superior method.
• Economist Steven Landsburg has suggested
that the sole benefit of reducing landfill space
is trumped by the energy needed and
resulting pollution from the recycling
• Sites for the disposal of Trash materials by
burial and is the oldest form of waste
– Pit: filling existing holes in the ground,
typically left behind by mining
– Canyon: filling in naturally occurring valleys
– Mound: piling the waste up above the ground
• The construction of a landfill requires a
staged approach. To be commercially and
environmentally viable a landfill must be
constructed in accord with specific
requirements, which are related to:
– Easy access to road transportation
– Transfer stations if rail network is preferred
– Land value: price to purchase
– Cost of meeting government requirements
– Location of community served
– Underlying geology
– Nearby earthquake faults
– Water table
– Location of nearby rivers, streams, and
• Nuisances and hazards management
– The available void space must be calculated
by comparison of the landform with a
proposed restoration profile.
– This calculation of capacity is based on:
• Density of the wastes
• Amount of intermediate and daily cover
• Amount of settlement that the waste will undergo
• Thickness of capping
• Construction of lining and drainage layers
• Protection of soil and water through:
Installation of liner and collection systems.
Storm water control
Landfill gas migration
– Feasibility studies
– Site after care
– Site investigations
• costs involved may make small sites uneconomical
– Site respect
• Non hazardous waste landfills need to
meet predefined specifications.
• In order to meet them, waste is:
– Confined to as small an area as possible.
– Compacted to reduce their volume.
– Covered (usually daily) with layers of soil.
• Land reclamation
– Golf courses and other
– Office buildings and
– Methane capture
• Collected waste releases
• Some landfills capture and
Darkin Building, built over a
landfill use the gas for energy
• A. Clark Wiseman, an economist at Gonzaga University
in Spokane, Washington, calculated:
• If Americans continue to generate garbage at current
rates for 1,000 years, and if it is all put in a landfill
100 yards deep, by the year 3000 it would fill a square
piece of land 35 miles on each side.
• Not an imposition in a country the size of America.
– The garbage would occupy only 5 %of the area needed for the
national array of solar panels proposed by environmentalists.
– The millennial landfill would fit on one-tenth of 1 %of the range
land now available for grazing in the continental United States.
– The loss would be temporary.
» Eventually, like previous landfills, the mounds of trash will
be covered with grass and become a minuscule addition to
the nation's 150,000 square miles of parkland.
• In many cases the cost of recyclable
materials also exceeds the cost of raw
– Virgin plastic resin costs 40% less than recycled resin.
– Additionally, a United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) study that tracked the price
of clear cullet from July 15 to August 2, 1991, found
that the average cost per ton ranged from $40 to $60.
– A USGS report shows that the cost per ton of raw
silica sand from years 1993 to 1997 fell between
$17.33 and $18.10.
• Landsburg has claimed that paper
recycling actually reduces tree
– He argues that because paper companies have
incentives to replenish the forests they own,
large demands for paper lead to large forests.
• Conversely, reduced demand for paper
leads to fewer quot;farmedquot; forests.
– Most paper comes from pulp forests grown
specifically for paper production where they
replant cut down trees.
• Many people have the misconception that
paper-making is what's causing deforestation
of tropical rain forests but rarely any tropical
wood is harvested for paper.
• Deforestation is mainly caused by population
pressure such as demand of more land for
agriculture or construction use.
• Recycling paper, although reduces demand of
trees, does not greatly benefit the tropical
Government Mandated Recycling
• In a 1996 article in The New York Times, John
Tierney claimed that government mandated
recycling wastes more resources than it saves.
• In cases where recycling truly does save resources,
such as with large scraps of aluminum, this will be
reflected in market prices, and voluntary recycling
will take place.
• Thus, there is no need for the government to
• Government mandated recycling is more
expensive than putting the garbage into landfills.
– Your tax money is going towards this useless
Government Mandated Recycling
• In 2003, the city of Santa Clarita, California
was paying $28 per ton to put garbage into a
landfill. The city then adopted a mandatory
diaper recycling program that cost $1,800 per
• In a 2007 article, Michael Munger, the Chair
of Political Science at Duke University, wrote,
– quot;... if recycling is more expensive than using new
materials, it can't possibly be efficient... There is a
simple test for determining whether something is
a resource... or just garbage... If someone will pay
you for the item, it's a resource... But if you have
to pay someone to take the item away... then the
item is garbage.quot;.
• Some of the fiber that enters any recycled pulp mill
is lost in pulping, due to inefficiencies inherent in
– According to the U.K. chapter of Friends of the Earth,
wood fiber can normally only be recycled up to five
times due to damage experienced to the fiber.
– Unless the quantity of newsprint used each year
worldwide declines to reflect the lost fiber, a certain
amount of new (virgin) fiber is required each year
globally, even if the individual newsprint mill may
continue to use 100% recycled fiber.
– Toilet paper is sometimes made from recycled paper
• large amounts of virgin tree pulp is still used
The Myths of Recycling
• Some small towns with landfills are happy
to import garbage from other cities and
states because it provides jobs and tax
• Tree farmers plant more trees than they
• Today's modern landfills are much cleaner
and safer, and much less likely to leak and
pollute than the landfills of the past.
The Myths of Recycling
• Incinerators make more energy than
– some things, such as glossy paper, can't be
recycled, and it is better to burn such
materials for energy.
• In 2002, WNYC reported that 40% of the
garbage that New York City residents
separated for recycling actually ended up
The Myths of Recycling
• Currently where recycling is, it is…
– not economically viable
– not entirely environmentally safe
– not able to produce the same amount of energy as
landfills or energies.
• It does not do what it promises to.
• Landfills are economically viable and follow
regulations to be environmentally safe.
• People recycle to “feel good”, but what they
“feel good” about is not happening in reality.