Recycling can benefit the environment significantly. However, there are overlooked environmental and economic consequences of recycling. That is not to say you should not recycle. Nevertheless, it is important to be as informed as possible regarding all decisions you make in life.
Advantages to Recycling
One of the major economic advantages of recycling is that it creates jobs. According to Eco Redux, “Studies show that for every job in waste management, there are four jobs in recycling. (Ecoredux, 6). Recycling gives an opportunity to jobless individuals who are looking for work. Not to mention, in some parts of the United States, cash rewards are offered for different types of cans or bottles. These cash rewards can help the homeless population while also helping the environment. According to Ecoredux, an environmental advantage of recycling is the protection of ecosystems. Considering recycling can reduce the demand for natural resources, it could potentially protect ecosystems as well. Not to mention, when something is discarded and cannot or is not recycled, it generally ends up in a landfill. When in a landfill, it can leak toxic chemicals into the ground as it breaks down and decomposes. This can have a toxic effect on the whole environment around the landfill. These examples show there are many positive effects which recycling has and many reasons why we should continue to fund and actively participate in recycling.
Disadvantages to Recycling
As shown in the last section, there are many advantages to recycling. However, there are also disadvantages. One of these disadvantages is the serious safety risk in recycling facilities. According to van den Burg, some of these risks include, “They include chemical exposure, combustible dust explosions, machine guarding hazards, and exposure to powerful equipment with moving parts” (van den Burg, 6). The machinery and equipment used to recycle are very dangerous and can easily become hazardous or even deadly to the people working on and/or around this machinery and/or chemicals. Another debatable issue with recycling is it worth the money that is being put into it? States are spending millions of dollars on recycling programs. This money could be going towards other programs or projects, so it is debatable that recycling is not worth the state and federal funding it is receiving for the effects that it is having on the environment and economy. These examples explain how recycling also has negative impacts on our environment and economy. This is not to say we should completely give up on recycling, instead just a different perspective on what others think about the topic.
Recycling has many benefits and costs on our environment and economy. We must weigh both when making educated decisions about what to prioritize as a country. Not to mention, there are other alternatives for recycling which more funding could be dedicated to like finding more eco-friendly alternatives for plastic.
van den Burg, Erwin. “The Disadvantages of Recycled Plastics – Chemistry | Sciencebriefss.com.” The Disadvantages of Recycled Plastics, 12 Sept. 2021, https://sciencebriefss.com/chemistry/the-disadvantages-of-recycled-plastics/.
Weber, Melissa. “15 Benefits of Recycling (Explained & Solved!).” Eco Redux, Eco Redux, 22 Apr. 2022, https://www.ecoredux.com/benefits-of-recycling.