Recycling Done Wrong Impacts on Recycling Contamination

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After pouring the rest of the milk into a cup, you walk over and put the milk jug in your recycling container. Throughout the week you continue to put plastic shopping bags, and paper plates from dinner in the recycling container. By the end of the week you are ready to take your recycling bin to the curb to be picked up.

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This is what majority of residents do each week when it comes to recycling. But what if the efforts of recycling and taking the recycling out, is not worth it? Not rinsing the milk jug out prior to putting it in the recycling container, making sure that plastic shopping bags and used paper plates are thrown in the trash, is the main reason that recycling efforts are being contaminated. More efforts are being made to recycle, however there is one major issue that is affecting such efforts. Putting recycling contaminants in with the rest of the recycling is doing more harm than good. Before looking into recycling contamination, it is important to know what recycling is.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines recycling as the separation and collection of materials that otherwise would be considered waste, the processing and remanufacturing of these items into new products, and the use of the recycled products to complete the cycle.”(Recycling Basics) If by taking something that is old and making it into something new is so difficult, then why do it? Ultimately it is to assist in sustaining life and to preserve resources. It is important because of how pollution is impacting our environment. While there continues to be efforts to reduce the amount of waste that is being produced, the rate of our growing population is out weighing the efforts.

With everyone, we must account for each person adding significant waste over their lifetime. This started to become an issue during the 1950s when the economic boom caused an increase in the amount of trash being produced due to the increase of the growing population. When people started to realize the impact, trash was having on the environment, the Three R’s movement began. The Three R’s stand for Reduce the amount of waste you create, Reuse items that could have a future purpose, and Recycle whatever you can. (Gordan, 2015) Even though the Three R’s are still popular today, there is a need to evaluate what is affecting the efforts. Recycling Contamination is one of the main reasons why recycling is failing, more so in residential areas.

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