The Future for Recycling

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Many supporters, however, think that recycling will continue to expand, just as it has over recent decades. They believe the United States clearly has not reached its recycling limit when 70 percent of our trash is still discarded. As the NRDC says, "Since Japan, Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Italy all recycle higher percentages of their wastes than does the United States, it is clear we could be doing better."26 To boost recycling rates, the NRDC believes it is critical to improve the management of our electronic waste such as old computers, cell phones, and TVs—the fastest-growing element of the waste stream. In addition, environmentalists propose banning the use of plastic shopping bags, which now are either dumped into landfills by the billions or littered as plastic pollution in cities, rural areas, and the oceans. The city of San Francisco banned the distribution of plastic bags by grocery stores in 2007, and many other communities are considering doing the same. Also, stores around the country are encouraging shoppers to reduce plastic bag use by offering reusable bags for sale.

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