Here’s an idea: make recycling mandatory. Impose fines for violators who throw away recyclable or compostable items.
Several areas throughout the United States have set a precedent:
- San Francisco implemented compulsory recycling and composting in 2009.
- Seattle successfully began enforcing this in 2006.
- In the US, Pittsburg, San Diego, New York, Philadelphia, Connecticut, Gainesville, Florida and Honolulu also mandate recycling.
Alameda County, California, is now considering mandating recycling and composting in order to divert 90% of eligible materials from city dumps by 2020.
Although it seems many Californians approve diversion of waste from the state’s landfills, there are opponents to the plan. Local businesses worry about additional costs – more trucks to divert recycling and composting items, as well as fuel costs. The environmental footprint seems to even out in this proposal, due to the necessity of hauling more items farther distances.
The San Jose Mercury News mentions the concerns of The California Refuse Recycling Council, a trade association of haulers, processors, recyclers and composters, who warned that the emissions from additional composting would be a financial burden on the operators, who might have to invest in technology and purchase emission offsets.
Interested in more reading on the subject:
- Here’s a controversial article called “Recycling Is Garbage,” written in 1996 by contrarian John Tierney in the New York Times Magazine.
- Here’s a response to “Recycling is Garbage,” found on The Straight Dope.
We are interested to hear your thoughts. What do you think about government involvement in recycling and composting programs?