Recycling and its Challenges

Posted on March 14, 2012 in Environment

By Amrita Nayak-Dutta:

Ever had a plastic bottle fly out of a car window and almost hit you in the face as you walk on the pedestrian walkway? You go to a supermarket, do some shopping and you are charged three rupees extra on your bill for a plastic bag. You head out for your Saturday night party and hear the crank of a bursting diet coke tin when your car runs over it. Sounds regular? On the one side, when the whole world is talking about tackling this problem of waste management and making grave decisions, we are continuing to do what we have been doing all these years. As a result, we are only helping in damaging our own environment.

There may be two probable reasons for this. One is that we have a society where the educated are few and far between, and the second could be that we carry a lackadaisical attitude towards this, and that we hardly care. We do not realise that it takes about 400 years to decompose a plastic cup and the otherwise-harmless paper bags take even more time to decompose! The landfills are now filled to the brim by a number of usual trash items like plastic bags, plastic bottles, and also electronic wastes like old cell phones and television sets, aluminium frames, scraps of fabrics and the regular cheese pizza box, all of which can cause untold harm to you without you even realising it.

People have been thinking about recycling wastes from centuries ago, but the topic got into active discussion only in the 1970’s. According to the popular propagation of being socially responsible, the idea of protecting oneself should be spread. This is because the damage would takes its toll one each and every individual of this planet. And moreover, each action of every individual makes a difference, whether it is for the good or for bad. Do we ever realise that it is us who can one day be surrounded by garbage if we don’t take recycling seriously? Do we know that scores of bags, other items made up of plastic and large amounts of paper thrown in the water bodies kills about 1,000,000 sea creatures a year? This does not just harm the ecology, but also turns the water toxic, harming people who consume the fish and other seafood.

It is believed that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that in 2005, the US generated 2.63 million tons of e-waste, out of which only 12.5% of that was collected for recycling. The other 87.5% went to landfills and incinerators, despite the fact that hazardous chemicals in them can leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams, or that burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin. So what can we actually do?

We could keep recycle bins in our vicinity and learn to separate the recyclable materials; make sure that we send all our recyclable trash to the recycling centres in and around our cities. Moreover we should stop using paper bags and plastic bags altogether as they take years to decompose. Afforestation should be encouraged and green world should be promoted. We can use more of glass utensils as they can always be recycled. The idea is to be aware of our surroundings; the idea is to recycle, reduce and reuse.