RECYCLING IN ILLINOIS
Recycling is the process of collecting products that are considered to be waste, sorting them and reprocessing them so that they can be used as raw materials in the production of new products. Recycling is different from re-use in that re-use is using the same product repeatedly while recycling is using the core elements of a used or old product as a raw material to produce same or different new product. Recycling involves collection of the old used products and cleaning them in readiness for production of new products. This is then followed by manufacture of new products from the raw materials. Lastly consumers purchase the recycled goods for their use (buzzle.com)
There are many benefits that come with recycling of products to the people and the environment of Illinois. Recycling saves energy in that when new products are manufactured from their original raw materials a lot of energy is used as compared to when recycled products are used. Energy that would have been used to clean the environment and protect it from the pollutants that are non bio-degradable is also saved. Recycling reduces pollution and saves environmental conditions, this can be seen in cases where recycling helps to reduce the green house gas effect by reducing the amount of energy used in the production. Recycling has also helped the people of Illinois save their natural resources for example when an old newspaper is recycled it is clear that the resources of another tree that would have been used to produce another new newspaper will be saved. Recycling has also had economic benefits to the people of Illinois State. This is because the manufacturers have been saved the expenses that they would have incurred in the processes of acquiring the “virgin materials” needed for the production and transporting the materials to the manufacturing sites. Recycling has also created employment at the different stages of recycling process and therefore improving the living standards of the people of the Illinois State. Recycling also saves the space that would have been used by landfills; this space is then put into other productive uses.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the power to permit recycling centers but instead this is done by the Bureau of Energy and Recycling (epa.state.il.us.) In Illinois recycling centers are operated by many private businesses and some local governments. Most of the recycling centers pay citizens who deliver their household waste materials to them. Household electronic equipments consist of cellular telephone, televisions, computers and audio equipment. Due to the increase in affordability of household electronic devices, many homes have acquired large amounts of these devices. Computer monitors and televisions are quite huge objects and they occupy a large area of the landfill and they are manufactured using very hazardous material like mercury and lead which may cause health problems to the community. The Illinois Environment Protection Agency does not require households to recycle their electronic devices although they should consider recycling. The Illinois EPA advises that before anyone decides his/her electronic device is a waste they should consider the following; donating it to a charity organizations, give it to their grandparents or use the old computer as a print server.
Alcoa AA through the Illinois recycling association recently donated recycling bins to the U.S Army National Guard facilities in the Illinois to enhance their recycling programs. The donation which consisted of more than 1,000 bins with a capacity of 22 gallons were shipped from Tennessee to the National Guard state Headquarters for distribution. The donation also came together with special recycling bins that are meant for aluminum beverage cans only (business wire, 2009.)
According to the Illinois recycling work group report municipal waste includes; Garbage, general household wastes, commercial wastes, institutional wastes, industrial office waste, industrial packaging waste, landscape waste, debris from construction or demolition, abandoned and discarded household goods, any other discarded commercial appliances, non-hazardous waste parts from motor vehicles, hazardous household waste and municipal wastes that are generated and discarded for recycling (Illinois EPA,2003)
The following chart shows how different types of waste contribute to the total amount of wastes in Illinois during the year of 2005
In Illinois there is a number of recycling centers which include whose major task is to recycle the above mentioned wastes; Cell phones for soldiers, whose goal is to help those soldiers who are serving in the overseas be able to call home. It encourages the citizens to donate their phones which are then processed and the returns used to purchase calling cards for soldiers in overseas (Kevin, 2009.) The earth 911 is a centre that provides services for recycling of materials like aluminum, paper, mercury and computers. It also offers information on how to reduce water and air pollution.
In the year 2003 the Illinois state Government decided to sponsor hazardous household waste collection event that was aimed at getting rid of potentially harmful leftovers or unused products from the homes. These products would then be recycled accordingly and therefore preventing any disasters that they may cause (illinoi.gov.) Electronic waste which is also referred to as E-waste is waste that comprises of Monitors, computers and TVs and has been found to be the largest contributor in the solid waste generation. E-waste can pollute ground water in case the material in the electronic devices leaks while in a landfill and this may cause health hazards to the community living near the landfill. The environmental law and policy centre is suggesting the creation of an E-waste recycling program to cater for the electronic wastes. This program will require manufacturers to come up with a take back program for electronic products or work closely with the local recyclers to offer the Illinois residents a recycling program that is close to their homes. E-waste recycling program is expected to be easy to the people and also improve the economy of Illinois through creation of more jobs hence improving the living standards of the people of Illinois State. The program is also expected to reduce the high rate there is of pollution of the environment.
Recycling has been seen to be very important in Illinois in that it can produce different products from different wastes, for example a used pop bottle may be recycled into part of a child’s toy. This clearly shows that recycling goes further into making a product more useful. In Illinois the citizens are offered services in collection of waste materials and this is done free of charge. The only input required from the citizens is to separate the wastes into different categories and put it in the recycling bin for collection. There are also public recycling bins strategically located in public places for waste disposal. Most of the groceries in Illinois have recycling bins for recycling old plastic bags because plastic has been seen to be a very common source of waste and it is also non-biodegradable. Recycling is not a new concept in Illinois but initiating it into the modern way of life took a lot of time because in the past people used to discard all their wastes into landfill without the thought of recycling them, which caused a lot of landfills to be put up in Illinois. Some states in the United States like California, Oregon and Maine have passed laws that either establish deposits or refund value on packaging containers of beverages so as to encourage the reuse of the containers and recycling. Illinois should also come up with a similar law.
When recycling was first adapted in Illinois the recycling cost was same or even at times higher than the trash disposal cost. This caused some people who were against the recycling concept to argue that recycling could be more expensive in the long run as compared to the landfills. In 2002 the recycling costs in the Illinois state amounted to $32 per year. Those who were for recycling pointed out that the benefits that the community got from the recycling process was more and should therefore compensate for any difference in cost that may arise.
The Illinois State government has also integrated the recycling science into its educational system because recycling of late has become a target for most of the educators. The areas that have shown this integration are including areas like; water units, study of natural resources and environmental units in the curriculum. Although there is increased concern for the introduction of recycling units into the Illinois curriculum most text book publishers have not been including the recycling issues in the text books and so the teachers are left with an option of supplementing the textbooks with some outside information so as to meet the required national standards. There are also some non-profit organizations in Illinois for example; be smart and Center for new American Dream that are providing information to the teachers about recycling so as to fill the gap left by the textbooks. (Allan, 2007)
In the American country there is an American Recycles Day (ARD) that is set aside to encourage Americans to recycle products and also buy recycled products. The ARD is celebrated on 15th November all over America to raise awareness on the importance of recycling. The day is also aimed at encouraging Americans to buy recycled products and also pledge to recycle.
The following are some statistics about recycling in Illinois; in the past decade increase in total recycling in the Illinois has rose by 100%, the energy saved in percentage when an aluminum can is recycled as compared to producing a new one is 95%, 4.6 pounds of trash are produced per person per day in the Illinois State and 1.5 pounds of this trash is recycled per person per day (nrc-recycle.org.)
In conclusion the following are the facts of recycling of some products in Illinois State. Used aluminum cans have been found to be the most recycled materials in the Illinois State but other aluminum parts and products have been left out in the recycling process. It has also been estimated that when one aluminum can is recycled the energy saved can be used to run a TV for a period of three hours. According to the Illinois EPA estimates aluminum cans have accounted for less than 1% of the total Illinois waste stream because most of the aluminum is recycled and there has not been found a maximum number of times that aluminum cans may be recycled. According to a report by the EPA Illinois branch it is estimated that if every Illinois citizen recycled only one-tenth of their newspapers 25,000 trees would be saved per year. It is estimated that there are around 500,000 plastic bottles that are used in the Illinois State every hour and most of them are thrown away. It has also been estimated that recycling plastic can save as twice energy as it would be required to burn the plastic in an incinerator. Energy that is saved by recycling one glass bottle can run a light bulb of 100watts for a period of four hours. A glass bottle left in the landfill is expected to stay a period of 4000 years before it decomposes and this would mean that the landfills would fill. Rainforests are also decreasing at a rate of 100 acres per minute in the world and this has greatly led to the current climate change. Currently there has been an increase in availability of consumer desktop printers and this has led the emergence of disposable ink cartridges. This has led to a lot of cartridges been disposed off in the landfills where it takes more than 1000 years fir them to decompose. In the Illinois State the manufacturers of cartridges have come up with a method to recycle the cartridges. Most of the manufacturers have also come up with programs whereby after using the cartridges one can return it to be refilled. Illinois citizens also need more information on recycled products to encourage them to buy the products.
Alan Bridgewater, (2007) the Self-Sufficiency Handbook: A Complete Guide to Greener Living, Skyhorse Publishing Inc., 2007, pp. 62-63
Kevin G. Lowery, Alcoa Supports the Illinois Army National Guard Recycling Program, Business wire news journal, May 28 2009, 412/553
Recycling Made Easy and Profitable. National Recycling Coalition, available at: http://www.nrc-recycle.org/philinquirerarticleonrecycling.aspx
Illinois counties solid waste management association (ILCSWMA), July, 2007, recycling measurements work group, Final report