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Old 10-16-2010, 01:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
I'm calmer than you are, dude
 
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Location: North Carolina
I have a problem with recycling

Effective 10/1/10, North Carolina has enacted legislation making it illegal to dispose of rigid plastic containers, aluminum cans and glass bottles in landfills. In other words, you can’t just throw them in the trash. North Carolina now requires private citizens to separate these items from their trash, sort these items by material and recycle them. Failure to do so will result in a monetary fine (I’m not sure how much).

As far as I know, liquid foods are only realistically available in aluminum/glass/plastic containers. I realize that there is likely eco-friendly packaging made from rainbows and unicorn farts, but I have never seen it. In other words, I have no real choice but to purchase products made of aluminum/glass/plastic.

Having purchased said materials, I have no real choice as to how to dispose of them. I cannot burn my trash or I will be hit with a fine. I cannot bury it in my backyard or I will be hit with a fine. I can’t just dump it in the woods or on the side of the road or I will be hit with a fine. I cannot dispose of it in the county landfill or I will be hit with a fine. My options are either to stockpile my aluminum/plastic/glass and try to sell it myself, or I can sort it, throw it in my truck and drive it down to the county recycling station and make a donation to the state government.

I’m all for recycling. I have done it for years because it gives me a warm fuzzy and because I respect the program's origins. That being said, I don't like being told what to do. I really don't like being threatened (by way of monetary fines or otherwise). In fact, I am seriously pissed off. In essence; the state government is forcing me to provide it with pre-sorted valuable materials. The government then takes these materials and uses my tax money to process them. It then profits by selling these materials to private industries.

Is this unethical or am I overreacting? Where do the profits go? Who benefits from this? Exactly how much money is being made here?
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Last edited by Walt; 10-16-2010 at 01:25 PM..
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Old 10-16-2010, 01:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Oregon
It depends on the materials and where you live. Some plastics are baled up and shipped off to China for burning. Some are indeed recycled; it depends on whether there are people a) willing to buy plastic near you, and b) whether there are the facilities in place to recycle it. However, the material isn't as valuable as you think it is; many solid waste companies don't make any money off of recycling plastic. We have a local recycler here that had to stop taking plastic for a while a year or so ago because they were losing money on recycling plastic; they also charge to take any polystyrene.

Aluminum is a material where it's easier to make new cans out of old ones, so there is some value to it. Glass, however, is different: clear glass is more easily made from new material than recycled material. Colored glass can be made from recycled bottles.

All in all, it's highly unlikely that your muncipality/state is making any kind of money off of this. It's more than likely that any money that is made off of one material (like aluminum) is used to offset the loss created by recycling another material (like plastic). I understand your frustration from being told what to do. One thing I appreciate about where we live is that that is not an issue--most Oregonians recycle willingly.

For this information, I grilled my husband--he's a chemical engineer with a focus in environmental engineering, and has taken many classes on sustainability of all kinds.
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
still, wondering.
 
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Location: South Minneapolis, somewhere near the gorgeous gorge
Minneapolis's recycling efforts help to fund themselves by selling the pre-sorted by-products. Who loses when recycling is required? I get a warm fuzzy out of it, too.
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Old 10-16-2010, 02:44 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Location: ❤
In some areas all recyclables need to be in clear plastic bags.
Kinda like clear plastic backpacks on campus.

Transparency has its irony, especially regarding plastics.
Many are shipped to India as well & end up in landfills & the ships come back
with shiny new plastic manufactured from there.

Its complicated.
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Old 10-16-2010, 03:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: In the land of ice and snow.
Do you get angry about laws that make it illegal for people to dump motor oil, car batteries or household toxic chemicals?
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Old 10-16-2010, 03:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Location: ❤
Good question.

Walt, my state just made it illegal to drive without car insurance this June,
& the locals have just voted 'yes' on the smoking ban in bars.

Welcome to the new ways, Walt. Deal.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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^^ Jesus! Just this June? Damn!

Have nothing to add to the OP.
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Old 10-16-2010, 04:44 PM   #8 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
 
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We find it remarkably challenging to recycle in our current living situation. We live in a tiny apartment with no room for our furniture and bicycles, much less an extra bin for recycling. The only waste disposal provided by the landlord is a standard dumpster. The system here is such that it is virtually impossible for people in our position to recycle. After growing up in California where recycling and compost is a fact of life, this has definitely been a culture shock.

That said, I have been known to walk into campus Monday mornings with a mess of bottles, boxes, and cans, ready to dump them into the nearest recycling receptacle.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:04 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Hey now, there is a big difference in mandatory recycling laws and laws dealing with the disposal of hazardous material.

As much I love Filth's tangents, having a a few beer cans on your burn pile is not the same as dumping 24 volt truck batteries.

I recycle everything I can. In my particular area, they do not collect cardboard and only accept comingled glass/plastic/aluminum.

I used to go out of my way to recycle cardboard by loading it up in my tiny little car and driving it to a commercial cardboard dumpster.

Don't do it so much anymore. Now I'm in an area where recycling isn't in the vocab and everything (I mean everything) gets burned.
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Last edited by Plan9; 10-17-2010 at 01:07 AM..
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:09 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow, and I thought the UK was supposed to be a nanny state

If the law actually required me to take all plastics and aluminium to an out of town recycling centre - given that I dont have a personal car (just a company car I use in the week) - I would be expected to walk maybe several miles carrying bags of trash? This is absolutely outrageous. What are elderly people supposed to do?
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:16 AM   #11 (permalink)
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In America everybody has cars. For no reason. People that live in the city have giant SUVs. Most families have extra vehicles. Hell, I've got a car and a motorcycle and I spend most of my time far, far away from 'em. Transportation isn't an issue so much as it is the general hassle of trying to "go green" because it's mandatory (I wonder if they'll ever have a special recycling gestapo), not because it's a good idea. That and most Americans are both incredibly myopic and super lazy and reluctant to do anything good for anybody except themselves. "Fuck the planet, my taxes are so high!"

In civilized ("socialist") countries, such as Germany, recycling containers are next to trash containers nearly everywhere throughout the city. Even when I was piss drunk and stumbling through the cobble-stoned streets of Munchen, I could find a place to recycle my empty (gah... useless!) bottles.

If communities were better organized this wouldn't be a problem. If tax dollars helped transport the materials to the site, no problem. As an example, my ancient parents live in an area where recycling is picked up on Tuesday, trash on Thursday. You put out the blue bin one day, the trash cans the other.

And recycling isn't even mandatory there.
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Last edited by Plan9; 10-17-2010 at 01:24 AM..
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Well, I have three wheelie bins as does everyone else in my district: one for food waste, one for plastics & glass & paper & cardboard, and one for normal rubbish

I have no problem putting the right things in the right bins, but I would absolutely refuse to drive to a place to dump my rubbish

And even if most people in the US have cars (as most people in UK do) still what about elderly people who can no longer drive? What about someone who is disabled? What about a one car family where one partner needs the car for their job?

I cannot believe it can be possible to make a law that forces people to take certain items to a recycling centre miles away and fines then if they do not.

I am all for recycling and I do do my bit, but this is simply a tyranny.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:32 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
Hey now, there is a big difference in mandatory recycling laws and laws dealing with the disposal of hazardous material.

As much I love Filth's tangents, having a a few beer cans on your burn pile is not the same as dumping 24 volt truck batteries.
Who said they were the same? I was more commenting on the tendency for some folk to show apathy towards the long arm of the law until it makes things slightly less convenient for them. Then, all of a sudden it's "you can pry my aluminum out of my cold dead hands".
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:50 AM   #14 (permalink)
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After 9/11 NYC canceled the recycling program citing that it was too expensive.

A few years ago they re-instituted it. I have not bothered to re-institute it into my lifestyle.

If the city government was able to decide that it wasn't important for a population of 8M to recycle because of costs, then it wasn't important to recycle anymore.

Those waste management union card carriers can pick through the trash to get out the recycling for the amount of money the city spends on it.

Screw 'em.
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:55 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan9 View Post
In America everybody has cars. For no reason. People that live in the city have giant SUVs. Most families have extra vehicles. Hell, I've got a car and a motorcycle and I spend most of my time far, far away from 'em. Transportation isn't an issue so much as it is the general hassle of trying to "go green" because it's mandatory (I wonder if they'll ever have a special recycling gestapo), not because it's a good idea. That and most Americans are both incredibly myopic and super lazy and reluctant to do anything good for anybody except themselves. "Fuck the planet, my taxes are so high!"
I just saw a number that suggested there are 2.28 vehicles per American household. So, on average, an American household has at least 2 vehicles, while several have 3 or more. I'm sure the numbers differ widely between urban and rural settings however....which leads to my next points.....

Quote:
In civilized ("socialist") countries, such as Germany, recycling containers are next to trash containers nearly everywhere throughout the city. Even when I was piss drunk and stumbling through the cobble-stoned streets of Munchen, I could find a place to recycle my empty (gah... useless!) bottles.
This is the same in Toronto.

Quote:
If communities were better organized this wouldn't be a problem. If tax dollars helped transport the materials to the site, no problem. As an example, my ancient parents live in an area where recycling is picked up on Tuesday, trash on Thursday. You put out the blue bin one day, the trash cans the other.
In Toronto this happens too if you have curbside collection (i.e. single-unit dwellings), but even with managed apartment buildings the same might occur, depending on the setup. Regardless, Toronto has a simplified system: if it's recyclable, put it all into the Blue Bin (aluminum, paper, glass, whatever). Compost goes into the Green Bin (however, not nearly enough apartments have a Green Bin option). If it's not recyclable, it either goes into the trash or must be dropped off at a depot for proper disposal (depending on the material).

There are many private services that will take your shit off your hands for a reasonable price if you don't have a vehicle or couldn't be bothered. But I chalk this up with being in a metropolis. I'm sure things aren't as easy elsewhere. But I think this is more along the lines of an ideal.

I think the trick is to keep it simple. The disadvantage to Toronto's system is that it must pay more for sorters when the stuff gets to the depot. However, at least it makes it easier for compliance at the source. You can't have a highly functional recycling program if people couldn't be bothered and just throw things in the trash, with a risk of fine or not. I think where people have the most confusion with Toronto's system is with the specifics: is this metal takeout container recyclable? (Probably not.) Can I recycle this plastic bag? (Not if it's clear.) etc.....

The information is out there though. And at least you don't have to sort. For the most part, it either goes into the Blue Bin or goes into the trash.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:18 AM   #16 (permalink)
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its like eating vegetables when you're a kid. nobody wanted to do it and it was a pain in the ass, but it was good for you in the long run.
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Pretty simple really, do your own thing as long as it does not fuck with anyone's enjoyment of life.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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It just that people are so far removed from the real manufacturing & industrial mining process that they don't care. If they knew how much work it takes to mine enough aluminum for one can, refine it, deal with the waste products, and then move it to the factory, we should all be recycling or reusing all of the aluminum and metal cans.

Plastics and glass are debatable, yet I think they are sorting them now in order to be able to do something with them in the future. We never know when something like pulverized glass mixed in asphalt that makes it last longer will come along.
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