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The sustainability of global economies and the survival of all living species primarily depends on how clean their surrounding environments are. Clean ecosystems ensure that all living organisms thrive well within their ecosystems, something rare in present times due to increased environmental pollution and degradation.
When comparing the past and present world, it is not wrong for one to argue that there are likelihoods of extinction of all living species if pollution continues with the present rate. This is because considering the rate at which human practices are destroying the environment, soon or later, there may be nothing that can sustain life, which may eventually lead to extinction. Although nature has tried to replace destroyed habitats and decomposes pollutants, the rate of disposal and environmental destruction outweighs its efforts.
The un-decomposability of some wastes and their destructive nature compounds this, hence making environmental preservation harder. This is because these un-decomposable wastes remain embedded in the environment leading to dire harm to the peaceful balance in world ecosystems.
One funny thing that has always amazed individuals fighting to preserve the environment is that, although human beings have experienced calamities resulting from environmental pollution, they still propagate the practice. This has greatly jeopardized protection efforts, hence resulted in many calamities that have caused immense destruction of property and lives.
It is possible humans may blame nature for is the inability to decompose wastes; assuming that is its main function. However, one fundamental question that all individuals should ask themselves is; environmental protection is whose duty? After a critical examination of this question, again all individuals should ask themselves this; what is the ere contribution to environmental pollution?
Also, which efforts have they put in place to control the practice? Although technologically one may lack an advanced mechanism of curbing pollution, there is a simple methodology that all can embrace; Recycling. This paper will discuss concepts of recycling problems and their solutions as pertains to environmental preservation.
Environmental conservation encompasses the little efforts that all individuals do to ensure the environment remain safe and sound for the sustainability of life. Having complex systems of waste handling do not guarantee that the environment will always remain clean but rather, the achievement of a clean environment depends on waste disposal practices adopted by individuals. Almost all sources of environmental pollution originate from human practices; something individuals can reverse if they are willing.
Primarily, most products used by human beings originate from forests, mines, and farms. Also, one important thing that individuals have failed to recognize is that even the most complicated embed systems and computer technologies come from the ecosystem. This is because components of these systems originate from nature.
In this regard, it is not wrong for one to argue that, after their use, these materials can be recycled to avoid them accumulating in the environment considering complexities associated with them. In this sense, it is important to note that recycling just needs simple common sense use owing to the simplicity associated with it (Shimada p.1).
The whole recycling process involves the re-processing of used products into a form that is reusable or modification of waste products to forms that have fewer impacts on the environment in terms of degradation. One best thing with recycling is that some of its measures require little efforts; hence, any individual can participate in the practice, owing to its importance to reversing currently existing environmental problems.
Correct implementation of recycling measure can help to reduce the accumulation of waste materials in landfills or incinerator. Apart from conserving the environment, recycling has other benefits, which include saving of funds and energy.
For example, considering the volumes of thrash or wastes that industries emit, it is very hard for the environment to contain all of them because some are very toxic and harmful. Therefore, this makes it necessary for industries to adopt recycling mechanisms, which will not only ensure that industries reduce expenses associated with buying new products, but also reduce the toxicity of their waste products (Admeg p.1).
Problems of Recycling
Although recycling is an important process of reducing environmental pollution, like any other process it has associated problems. This problems either result during pre-processing or after the re-processing process is over. Primarily recycling should progress in three main steps, namely: collection and separation of waste products, re-processing of new products, and the re-use of such products. A simple analysis of these three steps can make one say that the whole recycling process is simple, something which is ever the case.
For example, consider a process like recycling of solid wastes primarily plastics. Their collection and sorting out is a very simple exercise that any individual can undertake. However, things become complicated when it comes to recycling.
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From research findings presently, there is no appropriate mechanism of conducting their melting and re-processing owing to the complexity of the process involved. Also, although their recycling process can help to ensure they are reusable, many negative effects result from it, hence making it equally worse as their presence in the environment (Heimlich p.1).
One main problem associated with recycling is the complexity of the entire process. Recycling of product s such as garden wastes is a simple process owing to the fact that they are easily decomposable, hence needs simple damping measures. Contrary to this most solid wasted require the complicated process to decompose or make them reusable, something that most individuals or communities cannot afford.
It is important also to note that some solid wastes are not easily modifiable or even if they are modifiable, it takes a series of complicated steps to obtain their final re-usable product. In this regard, considering costs incurred in the entire process it is better one had purchased new ones, which again posses one important question; where will the obsolete one go?
Another problem that makes recycling a complicated process is the nature of costs incurred in re-processing some wastes. For example, the recycling of curbside is very expensive to levels that many communities have opted to buy unsullied curbside than use re-processed curbside. This case is not different with industries dealing with the re-processing and re-selling of curbside.
Most of these industries have opted to stop the re-processing of curbside products because of more costs incurred during re-processing as compared to proceeds from sales of the re-processed products. For example, during the fiscal year, 1995 Washington D.C municipality spent approximately $ 3.7 million to re-process curbside, a figure that was far much below what it gained ($ 1 million) from sales proceeds of the same (Grindel, Snover and Hopkins p.1).
Noting this variation therefore, it is one thing to collect and sort wastes but another complicated thing to re-process the same wastes. The New York City municipal council proved the same, hence banning the recycling of glass and plastic materials because it could incur more costs than to buy new glass materials.
Other common products that require many funds in their recycling are pressure-sensitive adhesives. Individuals use adhesives to stick together papers; hence, in the reprocessing of papers getting them off is a major problem considering that most pulp industries use water as the main dissolving medium.
Stickies (resultant products after dissolving paper), may cause weakness on paper; hence, making the recycling process useless and invaluable; this translates to increased expenses incurred by industries, a low outcome or poor quality outcomes (Cal Recycle p.1).
Recycling also has energy wastage problems. Considering the three processes involved in the recycling process, collection and sorting processes are simple. However, the entire re-processing procedure that will ensure the re-formulation of usable products requires a lot of energy; which is costly as compared to benefits that result from such recycled products. It is important to note here that, primary sources of energy are fossil fuels, which primarily are non-renewable and major pollutants.
Consider, for example, the decomposition of plastic requires a lot of energy, whose main form can be nuclear or fossil fuel energy. The same applies in during aluminum’s recycling because for smelting and casting to occur the entire process needs a lot of energy, which is usually in the form of heat.
In this regard, although recycling plastic will reduce pollution due to the un-decomposability of plastic, on the other hand, the recycling process will result to more environmental damages depending on the source of energy used (Center for sustainability: Aquinas College p.1). Also, to wastage of energy during processing, garbage collecting companies use a lot of energy in the form of fuel used by lorries; hence resulting to increased pollution, a problem the companies aim to alleviate.
Chemical discharges are other main and most harmful pollutants to the environment. This is because their effects take long periods to leave the environment; hence, adverse owing to the fact that most of them are untreatable and are irreversible. In this regard, chemicals used during recycling jeopardize environmental conservation efforts, hence contradicting the main goals of recycling.
Take, for example, for a paper recycling company to be able to recycle waste papers; it requires chlorine as one of the basic chemicals for bleaching. Chlorine in its aqueous compound form is one of the most dangerous pollutants due to its corrosive and bleaching action on any material it contacts.
Another common problem with the recycling of some products is the nature of emissions released from recycling plants. For example, research findings have proved that most steel recycling industries produce dioxin, a very dangerous gas to living organisms’ survival. Also, the entire steel recycling process results in products, which are less durable; hence wear out easily.
This translates to the increased cost of production, and fewer returns from sales; hence, economical the process is wasteful and not profitable. In addition to emissions resulting from steel processing, plastic re-cycling industries also produce a lot of fumes because plastic is a product of petroleum; a product of fossil fuels that are very harmful to the environment when burnt or decomposed.
Solutions to Recycling Problems
Although all the above problems exist, individuals or organizations can alleviate them by employing correct precautionary measures, which should not only reduce their economic needs but also reduce their impact on the environment.
Organizations dealing with the issue of curbside recycling can alleviate its related economic problems by employing practices such as a collective collection of recyclables, whereby the collection center should have compartments for different types of wastes. This entire process can ease the process of garbage collection; hence, making sorting easier. Also, this will enhance the recycling process by making all individuals responsible for their acts.
The second major solution to recycling is responsibility. Poor handling of thrash is one of the main contributors to increasing pollution. This results from poor or no recycling efforts, a practice embraced by most individuals. Most industries use plastic containers to pack their foods, something, which has contributed greatly to increasing pollution because individuals dispose of these papers poorly after use.
However, individuals have the potential of reversing this, because instead of throwing away the plastic containers, individuals can use them for other house purposes, for example, gardening. With continuous re-use of them, gradually as time advances the resultant pollution will reduce; hence, a cleaner environment.
This strategy has worked with big organizations such as McDonald’s; whereby it uses recycled material to not only to renovate old food stores but also to build new ones. Examples of materials it uses include old worn out tires, furniture, and drinking bottles, which it collects from its surrounding environments when dumped by its customers (Grindel, Snover and Hopkins p.1).
Individuals or organizations also can alleviate the problem of plastic recycling by embracing the use of bioplastics (packing plastic products manufactured from vegetable oil or cornstarch), which are easily biodegradable.
Considering the non-biodegradable nature of plastics obtained from petroleum products, this technology can help to alleviate problems that may result from poor plastic disposal methods, because bioplastics can breakdown regardless of their position; either in composite pits or landfills (Problems of plastic recycling p.1).
In addition to reducing problems resulting due to plastic recycling, industries can alleviate or reduce problems caused by high-energy consumption by using radiations in the incineration process (mixing of waste products, with other polymers whose combustion produces enough heating or recycling energy). This is because radiations have potentials of going through most solid materials, hence easily decompose them using minimal energy.
This technology not only reduces the energy required for decomposition of materials but also aids the process of chemical recycling, hence reducing associated adverse effects of chemical treatment. For example, organizations that deal with aluminum and plastic recycling can use gamma rays, whose action on many solid wastes results to biodegradable materials, which are of more importance and use (Clough pp. 4-6)
In conclusion, although recycling seems one of the major environmental conservation mechanisms, it has very many associated dilemmas. This, therefore, calls for the need for formulation of correct measures or adoption of recycling processes that minimize pollution, while maximizing profits from any recycling effort taken by either individuals or organizations.
On the other hand, due to the failure of some recycling efforts, there is a need for all individuals to adopt measures that will ensure they reduce the use of non-biodegradable materials. This is because their reduction at least guarantees environmental safety because all individual at one time handles non-biodegradable materials.
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Cal Recycle. Pressure-sensitive adhesive; a sticky recycling problem. Cal recycles. 2010. Web.
Center for Sustainability: Aquinas College. Problems with current recycling methods. CAQ. 2010. Web.
Clough, Richard. Polymer recycling; potential application of radiation technology. Web.
Grindel, Ryan, Snover, Candace and Hopkins, Keith. Recycling, 1997. Web.
Heimlich, Joe. Recycling. Ohio State University. 2010. Web.
Problems of plastic recycling. Greenlaunches, 2009. Web.
Shimada, Savithri. Recycling and its importance, 2001. Web.