The writer of the letter “Monroe County needs to improve recycling” represents the solid waste industry, as his credentials indicate. This industry collects recyclables, along with materials that it takes to landfills. The recyclables are sold to various markets, which may fluctuate. The more collected to sell, the more money is made.
Manufacturers get to make more containers and materials to be recycled. Businesses can sell more as with reusable shopping bags of plastic, which will last longer than the one-time use ones, but when unfit to use they will go to a landfill. So, manufacturers and businesses profit from recycling. Consumers, meanwhile, are caught in the middle, innocent victims, mere conduits to recycle what they buy, as they pay at both ends of the cycle.
Two stores here, Abundance Co-op and Lori’s, give small rebates for reusable bags. All supermarkets should do the same. As is, they are ripping us off if we buy their pretty reusable bags to use, but receive no rebate.
In 1970, environmentalists urged recycling to save the planet. Keep the secondary resources — paper, glass and metal containers — out of landfills. Only Hegedorn’s in Webster still sold returnable bottles. The goal was to reduce or reuse materials, not merely recycle it. Plastic was unacceptable, a waste of petroleum. A ban on Styrofoam or other styrene failed in Albany due to industry-backed lobbying.
Householders who pay a private hauler to collect their discards can save money by having less waste after recycling, as they use a smaller container for pick-up and discontinue pick-up for periods of time.
I am addicted to recycling. I have a bag for newspapers, one for catalogs, etc. with a smaller bag inside for junk mail and smaller pieces and a large one for shredding to go to a bank. The shredding companies like clean office paper, so I remove the plastic windows from envelopes and put them into the “small” bag. Oh, yes, a separate bag takes peanut shells, which would neither break down in my compost pile nor outside as mulch. I also save some clean plastic and assorted items for a school which uses them for kids “junk” day when they create gift items to take home.
This is no way to spend one’s time. But, for now, recycling is a must. The future must prove different or we will run out of resources and ultimately lose the planet.
Byrna Weir