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Recycling plants are where our hopes for the future lie in terms of waste management. Recycling is, contrary to popular belief, cheaper than reproducing the good from scratch in most cases. Recycling also takes care of the enlarging waste disposal crisis that our society is headed toward.
These plants are generally most effective in:
- Plastics (although limited to types 1 and 2 out of many various types)
- Paper (although the quality of resultant paper is mediocre and you can often find particles of brown junk inside them)
- Glass (although the result is generally brownish because of the mixing of colors)
- Cardboard (although they can only be recycled to create a different consistency of cardboard)
- Various metals (although alloys present more of a trouble)
Therefore, although recycling holds great promise, it is currently not a particularly varied endeavor. We may hope, however, that in the future recycling plants will be able to work with a more varied selection of material.
Recycling plants at current are not particularly suited in fixing impurities and degrees of variance in what is recycled. Hopefully, in the future methods can be devised to counter these difficulties, while at the same time having low cost.
One trouble with recycling is that it suffers from the Tragedy of the Commons, which refers to each person not contributing the optimal amount to a program that will benefit the group but not benefit the individual. Even with fees for landfill waste disposal being levied, consumers are not inclined to dispose of wastes properly:
- They fail to pay attention to the number inside the recycle sign at the bottom of glass and plastic cans;
- They mix together printing paper, books, newspaper, wrappers, and (aluminum or gold leaf) foils in the "paper" bin, while these all pose different challenges to the recycling plant;
- They mistakenly recycle type 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 plastics (which can't be recycled at present);
- They simply are too lazy to recycle, and may either throw them in the back yard or the first recycling bin they came upon (not caring whether they can be recycled);
- They mistakenly classify soda cans as made of tin (rather than aluminum) and say it can't be disposed of;
- They consider recycling detrimental or don't trust in its results.
- Recycling is not available at many places.
- Recycling bins may be hard to find at any given location.
- Much of trash is simply littered on the ground.
- Some communities where recycling is performed charge money for recycling; this is an anti-incentive.
For this, we do not want a further expansion of the recycling advocation programs; those have done as much as they can. What we need is an expansion of the recycling program, as well as better machinery and programs to fix all the problems that people go to in these cans (maybe so that someday all things recycled can go in the same bin).