Should recycling be free? | The Tylt

Should recycling be free?

Whether you realize it or not, recycling costs money. It's easy to not give a second thought when you toss a plastic bottle into the recycling bin on the street. Some people feel given its benefits on the environment, recycling should be free of charge for consumers who choose to recycle waste. But given China's recent rejection of some recycled materials from the U.S., the cost of recycling is going up. Some say it's only logical for recycling to cost the consumer–they should even expect prices to rise. What do you think?

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Should recycling be free?
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Separating your recyclables from your trash is indeed a public service, but it's not free. Thought Co. looked to Michael Shapiro, the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste for insight on the average cost of recycling

“A well-run curbside recycling program can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $150 per ton…"

Just in the same way you pay to have your trash picked up, someone has to pay to pick up, process, and turn over recycled materials. That burden falls onto the consumer using said recyclable materials. The Michigan state government puts the reason for the cost in plain terms:

Recycling costs money because the material must be hauled and managed before it can be used in new products. A service fee is paid to have your garbage picked up at the curb, transferred, and buried at a landfill. Similar to the costs of waste hauling, it also costs money to pick up, transfer, and process recyclables. 
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Recycling is a choice, and it's one Americans should not have any barriers to making. As HuffPost's Erin Schumaker puts it, recycling is a behavior just like eating healthy and exercising; sometimes what we know is best for us is not what we actually do, particularly when the positive consequences are hard to see on a daily basis. 

According to Schumaker, the most common reason people don't recycle is a lack of accessibility. Even so, 8 percent of people forgo recycling because of cost, and by making recycling free, the behavior-change becomes that much easier for the average person. Jessica Nolan, an associate psychology professor at the University of Scranton, suggests curbside programs in place of community drop-offs for recycling. Or, if curbside pickups are not possible, drop-offs should be placed at grocery stores or other popular community locations. Nolan adds:

Or, she said, “If you see recycling as a value-added activity, why not charge a little more for trash [services] and then make recycling [pickup] free? There are structural ways that you can incentivize recycling.”
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The price to recycle is already increasing. In the wake of China's decision to restrict imports of certain recyclables, small towns are struggling to keep prices for curbside pickup low, as waste management and recycling companies have to pay more to process materials.

According to Wired's Oliver Milman, the domestic market for recyclables in the U.S. is not as big as you might think. With China's new standards in place for the types of materials they will accept, local authorities are left with a choice: recycle materials that are not worth much more than regular trash, or send these materials to landfills with the rest. Milman reports: 

It is “virtually impossible to meet the stringent contamination standards established in China,” said a spokesperson for the city of Philadelphia, who added that the cost of recycling has become a “major impact on the city’s budget,” at around $78 a ton.

Making recycling free solves nothing. The entire system needs to be overhauled in order to survive.

#RecycleForFree

Some people feel that recycling should at least be free in public spaces, if not free for all manner of large organizations–businesses included. It may have taken some time, but many Americans do try to recycle when they can. These days, it almost feels wrong to toss a Coke bottle into the trash. As a result, when businesses don't pay for recycling, some see it as a "stingy" or "wasteful" move. 

As one person writes on Twitter

I agree that it should be free, I also am not a trash expert and can’t speak at all to how our city deals with it or not. I would like to see compost be free and recycling more accessible in public spaces. Often we don’t have the option when we aren’t in private spaces

It seems many are in agreement that recycling should be free for all U.S. residents, making the entire process a true public service.

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Should recycling be free?
A festive crown for the winner
#RecycleForFree
#PayToRecycle