2A Brief History of recycling While recycling has been around for most of human history in one form or another, recycling as we know it today is a more recent phenomenon:1930s – People start making plastics from chemicals produced from petroleum (plastic products had been made from plants since 1862)1960 – In the UK, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is set up1971 – Recycling enters the public consciousness after Friends of the Earth return thousands of bottles to the drinks company Schweppes1986 – Environmental protection finally gets included in the Treaty of Rome through the Single European Act1990 – The Environmental Act – The most significant piece of environmental legislation2005 – America's Environmental Protection Agency estimates that recycling reduced the country's carbon emissions by 49 million tons
3Myths & facts about recycling Myth: Recycling uses more energy than normal waste collection. Fact: Even when transportation is taken into account, the energy and resources saved by not having to make new materials makes recycling better for the environment than normal waste collection. Myth: Government agencies won’t collect plastic food packaging as it can’t be recycled. Fact: Almost all of the 50+ types of plastic that are manufactured can be recycled, but the focus is usually on recycling bottles as they’re mostly made from just two types of material. This means little sorting is required and there’s a good market for the recycled product. Myth: It’s OK to throw away food waste because natural materials will biodegrade. Fact: Kitchen rubbish like leftover food can produce methane as it degrades. This is a highly potent greenhouse gas that’s produced when food waste isn’t exposed to oxygen as it breaks down.
4Myths & facts about recycling Myth: Recycled rubbish ends up in landfill. Fact: The problem isn't that recycling programs are dumping recyclable plastic into the trash – it's that they don't accept certain plastics in the first place. However, cities are expanding the range of plastics they accept through the use of new technology. Myth: It costs more to recycle than to make things from new materials. Fact: Many recycled products not only save energy and water but also reduce raw- material usage and the associated energy and pollution caused in the process of obtaining the raw materials. Myth: It costs more to recycle than it does to throw trash away. Fact: Trash collection costs us all money, but the real cost has been disguised due to subsidized landfill costs. With landfills filling up and closing down and landfill taxes having been introduced in a number of areas, recycling makes more and more financial sense.
5What can be recycledWhat can and can’t be recycled will greatly depend on your local recycling facilities. However, these are things which can physically be recycled:Paper & cardboard – Paper production represents about 1.2% of the world's total economic output and makes up more than 40% of the composition of landfills. The good news is, more and more paper is being recycled.Metal – Aluminium cans & foil, steel cans and tin cans. Recycling steel and tin cans saves 74% of the energy used to produce them. A steel mill that uses recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution and mining wastes by about 70%.Glass – Clear, brown, green. Did you know a glass bottle can take up to a million years to decompose? Not only is glass endlessly recyclable, it requires 75% less energy to produce than glass made from new materials.Plastics – Must be clean to be recycled. One dirty item can contaminate thousands, meaning they would go to landfill. Different places recycle different plastic – most places accept codes 1 & 2, a few accept 4 & 5 and even fewer accept 3, 6 & 7 – check out the plastic identification code.Other – Electronics, batteries, bulbs, polystyrene & plastic bags. Food waste cannot be recycled.
7What EC is doingEvery EC Centre has a recycling scheme in place, in which we recycle paper, plastic and cans as a minimum. In some centres we can recycle even more (depending on the local council). For example, in EC San Francisco we recycle plastic, paper, cans, organic and electronic waste, glass and batteries. In addition to our recycling schemes, we also educate staff and students with regards to the environment – that’s why you’re reading this!
8The future of recycling Recycling is the future, but more work is needed to make it easier and more cost-effective. Here are some ideas of what might happen in the future:Governments can start to mine landfills – this is already happening in some countries, and it involves mining landfills to extract valuable materials such as plastic and metals and create room for housingLocal governments could employ more single-stream recycling, in which all recyclables go into one bin for sorting at a processing facilityLocal governments could also adopt a ‘pay as you throw’ approach to waste management, charging households a fee based on the amount of trash sent to the landfillThis is something we can all do: utilize waste as a commodity – one example of this is Freecycle, where people are giving (and getting) furniture, housewares and other stuff for free near where they live – it's all about reusing and reducing
9If you have any questions or comments, please email RecyclingThanks for listening!If you have any questions or comments, please