Recycle or Not?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jay Taylor, Jan 12, 2005.

  1. Jay Taylor

    Jay Taylor Supporting Actor

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    For the past five years I’ve lived in a neighborhood that picks up recycle bins separate from trash. I’ve diligently followed the program by putting glass, plastic, paper & cans into the bin for weekly pickup.

    I’ve heard that it takes more energy to recycle most things than it does to produce it from scratch except for aluminum.

    Is this true?

    Should we stop recycling glass, paper & plastic?

    Should we continue to recycle glass, paper & plastic hoping that in the future it will be more efficient than making it from scratch?
     
  2. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Jay, I'd like to know where you heard that.

    According to this site, recycling glass takes less energy than producing it from scratch. The accompanying page cites other good reasons to recycle glass, not the least of which is that recycling (of any material) cuts down on waste disposal costs.

    Plastic is almost cheaper than dirt, but it's the same as glass in that it's cheaper (energy-wise) to melt down and reuse existing, refined plastic than it is to create it from scratch. The trouble with plastic is that it doesn't recycle nearly as well as glass. Once a plastic is formulated for a particular purpose, it can't just be thrown into a large vat, melted, and used for a different purpose. You know how you can't unscramble an egg? Well, with plastics, you can't re-scramble a previously unscrambled egg. Weird, huh? But with new techniques, it can be done with enough economy to beat producing it from scratch. Plus, recycled plastic finds it way into products other than milk jugs and water bottles. Most significantly, It's used extensively in lumber products, reducing our demand for forested materials.

    Paper recycling is effective, but only to a point. Some products, like ink-jet photo paper, simply can't use recycled paper. Most products can use some recycled paper, but you won't find much of anything besides brown and gray stationery that is produced from 100% recycled paper. Also, paper can't be recycled indefinitely. The thing that makes paper what it is is the wood fiber. Every time paper is broken down and recycled, its fibers are broken, which makes them shorter and less suitable for paper products. Eventually what you end up with is cellulose dust, instead of fibers, that can't be bound into a sheet of anything, much less paper. But industry is finding a use for this as fuel for power plants, Duraflame (-like) logs, and even more lumber products like press-board and MDF. If we don't recycle paper, these products and industries will have to get more of their raw materials from forested products, with all the downsides (expense, demand on environment, etc.) that entails.

    I'm glad you recycle. You should be proud, and I encourage you to keep it up.
     
  3. todbnla

    todbnla Screenwriter

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    I always recycle, period. [​IMG]
     
  4. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    I recycle like a madman.. I even recycle little cardboard things like soapboxes and toothpaste boxes. Even my treehugger sister doesn't recycle them. I don't know why (well I do know why is that I hate throwing things out) but I think I need therapy. I'm a compulsive recycler!

    Jay
     
  5. Al.Anderson

    Al.Anderson Cinematographer

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    I'm surprized your community doesn't recycle aluminum. From what I've read it has the most payback of all the recycled products - costing far more to produce from scratch that recycled.

    But I also recycle everything that I can. My area makes it easy though, picking it up at the curb. Some places you have to bring it to a central collection area.
     
  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Who cares if it costs more? It's better for all of us and for the earth if we re-use materials than dump them in landfills.

    As for glass, re-use should take precedence over recycling. Let's see more deposit bottles that get refilled and reused.
     
  7. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    Jay T., that's crap about costing more to recycle. It's a very popular theme among certain political groups.

    Baltimore County publishes a small flyer about recycling. It actually brings $$ into the county and helps reduce taxes. And yet, 1/8 of the people on my block do it.

    P*sses me off.

    Jay H. -- me too!! How about this one: the QTips package: I rip the cardboard part off and only throw away the plastic bubble part. Eh?
     
  8. Jay Taylor

    Jay Taylor Supporting Actor

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    Unfortunately I suspect that groups with an agenda on both sides of this issue are throwing around incomplete studies as fact. That’s the reason for this thread. What’s the truth? [​IMG]
     
  9. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    I don't know how one arrives at "truth" ....

    If both sides cite studies, is it not a matter of which side you choose to believe?

    Anyway, I'll google a while and see what reliable sources I can find ....
     
  10. LanieParker

    LanieParker Supporting Actor

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    Recycle , recycle, recycle!
     
  11. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I have read that it takes about 1/8th the energy to melt existing aluminum than to make new aluminum, since to make new, they pretty much have to melt dirt and then throw 90% of what comes out away
     
  12. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    WAIT, but can't the plastic bubble part be considered recycleable plastic?

    Pill bottles, cereal boxes, crushed up soda cans I find at trailheads, beer bottles picked up in the woods.. All gets taken home and put in the recycling bins.

    Our town collects them all (no separation needed) on an alternativing weekly schedule, one wednesday it's comingled glass/aluminum/plastic and the next week it's paper and cardboard. Then we have 2 days a year where it's household waste, motor oil, paint, etc. or you can go to a garage that by law has to accept X amt of motor oil.

    Jay
     
  13. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I've heard somewhere that corrogated cardboard recycles very easily also. Making aluminum from boxite is a PITA.
     
  14. Elinor

    Elinor Supporting Actor

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    >"WAIT, but can't the plastic bubble part be considered recycleable plastic?"

    Alas no, not in my county, just bottles and jugs, and only some of those.
     
  15. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    I suspect you have some of the same rules that my town has about plastics? My town only accepts #'s 1 and 2 plastic.That's exactly what I was going to say when I read the first few posts. The point to recycling isn't necessarily to save energy, it's to save waste.
     
  16. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    I don't know if recycling costs more energy than starting from scratch, but reusing the materials and actually reducing are two approaches that are not mentioned enough in this area of discussion.
     
  17. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Some items do cost more to recycle then recycling.. most notably, paper. In fact, recycling paper is in many cases far worse for the environment then just chucking it. (exception of heavy paper)

    The problem is that the recycling of most paper requires a step in which the items are basically bleached in order to get them back to a usable format; this creates a toxic afterflow that has to be handled seperately and cannot touch groundwater. Then, the paper is trucked from here to there (burning tons of nice gas) and pulped and reprocessed (using electricity and other energy) in the end, it is a net loss for the environment, not a positive. We currently grow enormous fleets of trees for only use of paper, these are not "old growth" rainforest type trees, these trees generally grow for 3-5 years, are cut down and used for paper pulp.

    Aliminum is the great winner - there is no reason not to recycle aliminum, and it's why some places will pay you for it. It's far cheaper, as well as better for the environment, to recycle cans and heavier metals then it is to reprocess them, period. It uses less energy and ends up with solid product.


    This came up for debate (I'm one of those yucks who did collegiate debate stuff) once, and the general conclusion was:

    Smart to recycle:

    Aliminum
    Heavy Metals
    -some- glass

    Waste of effort (and in fact, often bad for the environment)

    Most paper products.

    Your friends are right. By the time you figure in the trucking of used paper from place to place, the belt process, gas used, electricity used and bleach output, it's a bad deal. Same is true with some glass (easily clear glass can be done as a wash in some cases, but heavier purposed glass is a bad thing, because the process of reusing it burns so much energy you're doubling the pollution of just making a new one).
     
  18. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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    Interesting thought that it causes more pollution. (Sort of like the old debate that cloth diapers use more water and energy to clean than disposables...I don't buy that because the plastic in disposables never breaks down so that's the worse of 2 evils IMO) The problem could be eliminated if we weren't so caught up in paper being unnaturally white....we accept that it is but have no idea why? Paperless office, unfortunately it's a pipe dream.

    Here's the thing about paper that winds up in landfill, especially newpaper (your heavy paper comment, just thought I'd fill in the why)....it takes a lot longer than originally suspected to break down....the problem is that newspaper bundles petrify to some degree. I remember a prof who did a study went to a landfill site and found newspaper that was 50 years old or so, and, except for the outer layer, was almost perfectly preserved on the inside.

    I'd say recycle anyways....the concept alone is too important to abandon....that includes (where possible) Compost....by adding 3 compost bins (and recycling) we are down to 1 and one half garbage cans for a family of four. Significant, if our city does in fact go with the user-pay garbage collection scheme that's inevitably coming (minus the free 2 cans they will allow).
     
  19. Julian Reville

    Julian Reville Screenwriter

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    Everytime I buy t.p. made from recycled paper I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. :b
     
  20. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    That's strange, I get a scratchy, painful feeling. Nothing but Cottonelle with aloe (the real expensive type) for me. Environment be damned when it comes to TP!
     

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