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Through the 100 Percent Recycled Looking Glass

11/20/2008 4:10:02 PM

Tags: recycling, glass recycling, 2007 recycling,

I’ve always been jealous of those states listed on glass bottles. People in those states receive a nickel or a dime for recycling their glass containers. Kansas, to my dismay, does not offer a deposit-refund system for recycling glass. I know I shouldn’t need a monetary incentive to recycle glass (considering it’s 100 percent recyclable), but according to recent news from the Glass Packaging Institute, a nickel and dime goes a lot way.  

100 green bottles by James Cridland.

Photo by James Cridland/Courtesy flickr

The only states that offer a refund for recycling glass are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Vermont. About 28 percent of glass containers were recycled in the U.S. in 2007, a far cry from the 67 percent of glass that was recycled in 2007 in California (a state that has had a beverage recycling program since 1987). 

With a national recycling rate of 33.4 percent in 2007 for all materials, it’s a wonder why more refund programs are not in place for other recyclable materials. In several states, such as Nevada, laws have been passed to ensure automobile battery recycling, which may explain the 99 percent recycling rate for automobile batteries. 

It’s difficult to rely on people’s good will to influence them to recycle. So, should money be offered as an incentive, or even jail time as a motivation, for proper disposal? 

The answer is in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where a law requires restaurants and bars to recycle glass and aluminum cans. Because of the law, the city provided 20-yard, 4 to 5 tons containers for the materials. According to some of the restaurant owners, it’s easier and less problematic to recycle with the provided containers, and less excess trash is on the ground. 

The new law may have forced the restaurants and bars to recycle, but the containers provided by the city made it easy. 

I’m predicting that in the future, some form of mandated recycling will happen in the U.S. Until then, it’s a voluntary aspect of life for a lot of states. 

It’s easy for me to recycle at my school. I just look for a blue container and place my bottle, can, paper or newspaper in the appropriate hole or slot. At home, though, because of space limitation, I find it difficult to hoard and separate all my recyclable trash and manage to pack it up to take to a recycling center. Some of it ends up in the trash because of frustration and laziness. It’s not the most difficult task to recycle, but it’s not the easiest part of my day, either. 

If my city were to offer separate containers for me to properly dispose of my trash and pick up these containers, I would make a reasonable, conscious effort to recycle all my trash. And my neighbors, friends, professors and coworkers would, too. Not only because it’s the green and right thing to do, but because it’s easy.

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