Exporting and Importing Hazardous Wastes

Perhaps the most alarming part of the international trash trade is the growing practice of shipping hazardous wastes across national borders. In developed nations, these wastes are difficult and expensive to dispose of legally in a way that minimizes harm to the environment and to people. As a result, producers and recyclers are tempted to ship the waste to poor countries, where sometimes corrupt leaders offer much cheaper disposal fees. The problem, however, is that developing nations...

Garbage in Outer Space

Over the past few decades, humans have been spreading their garbage even into outer space. According to reports, between 9,000 and 15,000 pieces of debris can now be found orbiting the earth. The space garbage comes from satellites and various space missions undertaken by the United States, Russia, France, Japan, India, the European Space Agency, and China. The debris ranges in size from tiny specks to discarded parts of rockets weighing as much as 10 tons (9 metric tons). The orbiting trash...

Garbage in Paradise

Poor, developing nations typically have a difficult time financing a system for garbage pickup and disposal. Even beautiful tropical places known as tourist destinations face this problem outside the meticulously groomed resorts, piles of garbage often rot in the hot sun. The island of Bali, part of Indonesia, is a prime example. Bali's growing population produces more than 5,000 tons (4,536 metric tons) of garbage each day, much of it plas Even tropical locations, like the island of Bali, can...

The Recycling Solution

Once a common way to dispose of trash, recycling today is experiencing a renaissance. Recent increases in the amounts of garbage, combined with heightened environmental awareness in developed countries such as the United States, have led to numerous government programs for recycling wastes. Most of these programs are voluntary, although some cities have recently begun to mandate recycling. Overall, recycling is widely viewed as beneficial to the environment and human health, although some...

No Profit from Recycling

Analyses typically show that recycling does not pay from a private economic point of view. Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish author, academic, and environmental writer. Bjorn Lomborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist Measuring the Real State of the World. New York Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 209. A few critics also challenge the idea that recycling is beneficial to the environment. Professor Daniel Benjamin, for example, claims that recycling itself is a manufacturing process that uses trucks and...

Agricultural Hazardous Wastes

Industrial manufacturing is not the only industry that generates hazardous wastes, however. Enormous amounts of hazardous chemical pesticides and herbicides are used on crops by U.S. agriculture producers each year. Many of these chemicals run off into the soil and groundwater, and any materials left over are considered hazardous wastes. In some cases, too, the application of phosphate fertilizer produces fluoride wastes. Even animal manure produces concentrated nitrates that can leach into...

Recycling a Great Solution

Recycling saves energy, preserves natural resources, reduces greenhouse-gas emissions, and keeps toxins from leaking out of landfills. Marc Gunther, a writer and speaker on business and the environment. Marc Gunther, The End of Garbage, Fortune, March 14, 2007. http money.cnn In 2007, for example, the EPA reported that the nation recycled and composted 85 million tons (77 million metric tons), or 33.4 percent of all municipal solid wastes a vast increase from 1960, when only 6.4 percent was...

Garbage Challenges in Developing Countries

Developing Countries Pictures

The problems of waste management are different for the developing world. Because the economies of developing countries are usually not as robust as the economies of countries such as the United States, people in these poorer countries tend to buy fewer products with less packaging, and they produce less waste than Americans or residents of other industrialized nations. On the A child scavenges on a dump in Manila, in the Philippines. Many developing countries have problems disposing of wastes....

The Growth of Recycling

Sri Lanka Red Tea

Due to Americans' growing acceptance of recycling, over the last several decades the amount of waste recycled has increased each year in the United States. One by one, cities and municipalities have voluntarily implemented convenient curbside recycling programs, and laws have required the use of recycled content in certain manufacturing processes. One of the first curbside collection programs was established in 1973 in California. It collected mostly newspapers and other kinds of paper, but as...

The Limits of Recycling

Trade Waste Policy

Despite the benefits of recycling programs and their growing popularity, however, recycling has not solved the garbage problem. It is undisputed, for example, that recycling has not reduced the total amount of municipal wastes being generated by Americans. As conservationist Helen Spiegelman acknowledges, Even after the enormous exertions of America's cities and towns to recycle bottles, cans, newspapers and other consumer products, seventy percent of the products we buy are still going to...

The Birth of Modern Recycling Programs

Garbage Barge Mobro 4000

Even though recycling was commonly practiced by all households during pre-industrial ages, large-scale recycling programs did not arise until the twentieth century. The first organized programs were created in the 1930s and 1940s, when a worldwide depression limited people's ability to purchase new goods and the outbreak of World War II dramatically increased demands for certain materials. Throughout the war, goods such as nylon, rubber, and various metals were recycled and reused to produce...

Recycling Not a Universal Good

Recycling is a manufacturing process, and therefore it too has an environmental impact. . . . Recycling changes the nature of pollution, sometimes increasing it and sometimes decreasing it. Daniel K. Benjamin, economics professor and former adviser to President Ronald Reagan. Daniel K. Benjamin, Eight Great Myths of Recycling, Property and Environment Research Center, September 2003, p. 17. www.perc.org pdfrps28.pdf. The largest categories of plastic wastes include containers (for foods,...

Waste Management in Europe

Garbage Containers Europe

Most developed countries face the same problems with trash as the United States. In fact, some areas of the globe are way ahead of the United States in trash technology and policies. Europe, for example, due to its dense population, began running out of landfill space long ago. Many European countries turned to incinerators, but this method has become increasingly disfavored because it produces too much air pollution and hazardous waste. As a result, some countries in Europe have begun...

The Recycling Content Symbol

Zinc Recycle Symbol

The internationally recognized U.S. symbol for recycling three arrows traveling in a triangle was developed in the 1970s. During this period, many Americans were becoming concerned about the environment, and a producer of paper products the Container Corporation of America decided to publicize the fact that its products were manufactured using content that was recycled or recyclable. As part of this promotion, the company sponsored a nationwide art contest for a design that would signify...