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Why Not Recycling?

There is an unfortunate amount of reasons why recycling is not systematic today. And in order to understand, and find solutions, it is important to break it down. Individuals and the government must work hands in hands, so let’s consider the personal, and the political to explain our situation. The stake is high, and not recycling cannot be justified today: let’s try to understand what prevents it from sufficiently happening.

The Personal

Here are a few reasons inspired from an article - {{LNK|"5 Reasons Why People DON'T Recycle"|}} - that prevent recycling from happening, at the individual level.

1 > It is not convenient, and confusing. Not all locations are equipped with recycling bins, so you sometimes need to drive to a {{LNK|transfer station|}}. If you are lucky enough to have a {{LNK|recycling program|}} within your residence, you never know what waste goes to which colored bin, and even when you do there are exceptions that make you give up.

2 > It requires space! As far as everybody’s concerned, you need separate bins for paper, plastic, glass, aluminum… And not everybody can afford the luxury of storing half a dozen containers in his kitchen. Especially in the cities, where you may do this at home, yet it doesn’t mean you will find the right spot to throw your recycling bins away. Worse: it happens that despite the existence of separate bins, all the waste ends up together at the end… lack of strategy, low quality community service… ?

3 > Misinformation: Lack of awareness of all the {{LNK|products that can be made out of recycling|}}, or reused, lack of consciousness of the landfill being piled up “because the garbage is shipped elsewhere”, lack of information about the {{LNK|impact on natural resources|}} and on the {{LNK|price tags|}}... “It has nothing to do with intelligence or a lack of compassion”, it’s just misinformation.

4 > No more {{LNK|deposit/return system|}}. There once used to exist a deposit system that ensured the return of recycling materials. Glass bottles, for instance. Unfortunately this has tended to disappear, and so do these items… in the wrong trash.

5 > And let’s be honest… May it be enhanced by all these factors, laziness still deserves its own spot in the list.

The Political

Now let’s oversee three big trends - out of the article {{LNK|Why Is Recycling Not Mandatory in All U.S. Cities|}} - which could account for the lack of governmental mandatory initiatives to be implemented.

1 > The return of investment: As you can guess, “recycling often costs more than sending waste to landfills”. And landfills still have considerable capacity. In this view, the planet clearly is expected to pay the price… more information {{LNK|here|}}.

2 > Also, {{LNK|“Education, logistics and marketing strategies can lower recycling costs”|}}. It is possible that the government would not implement costing policies, and wait for the population and corporations to be on the level before moving. However the {{LNK|Doomsday Clock|}} is ticking…

3 > Recycling policies implemented at {{LNK|city-level|}} see the tiniest lack of cooperation ruin the global efforts too often. A few items contaminating the wrong bin, and it is a whole container that is not fit for collection… A government imposed policy would have to be too repressive to make sure the law is enforced. Are we ready for this yet?

Just a few reasons why a bottom-to-top strategy sounds more likely to succeed… starting from the personal to the political. Awareness must be raised first, for any program to really have the expected impact… but in the end, both must work together. What else do you think prevents people from recycling, and what more could we do to stimulate the movement?

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