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Mischiv's avatar

What is a reason not to recycle?

Asked by Mischiv (40points) January 24th, 2011

For my English class I have to right a persuasive essay on a topic of my choice. I chose to write persuading the reader to recycle. But in my essay I also have to represent the opposing side (not as well, of course since I want the reader on my side.) I’m having problems finding my one reason not to recycle. Any ideas?

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26 Answers

tedd's avatar

Convenience, and cost.

(not necessarily that they’re good reasons)

wilma's avatar

Jobs created by production of new materials. the argument for that would be jobs created by recycling old materials

gasman's avatar

There should not be an unreasonable burden of inconvenience on the consumer. For example, if you have to maintain half a dozen different containers for various kinds of materials, and then drive them over to a recycling center, then it’s unrealistic to expect a high rate of compliance. The municipality (or other solid waste service) should make recycling easy.

nimarka1's avatar

well, from what i learned in my critical thinking class, is to almost turn this into a debate. first of all you have to take out all emotion and personal belief. And really get into it. You could say reasons for not recycling is some people believe the whole global warning is fake. a tactic for the government to control us with fear. If we the public recycle then, it’s like doing a job for free for what the government would have to pay for – because these materials have to be separated anyways. I don’t know something like that. Like people believe it’s a conspiracy or something.

gambitking's avatar

Well, if it’s a topic of your choice, I think you picked a bad one since you’ve gotta include that counter argument.

Other topics to avoid that might have this same problem: Earning Money, Going to College, Church, Loving Your Family, Being Faithful to Your Spouse. You get the idea ;)

Anyway, its tough to write counterpoints for stuff that has hardly any downsides.

Try something controversial!

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

A lot of discards, particularly electronics and computer parts, are sent overseas (i.e., China) for recycling. The work is done under dangerous conditions that affects the health of the people performing it. For example, to recover lead solder from old circuit boards, piece workers often heat them over an open flame, without adequate ventilation. They’re paid by the amount of material they recycle, so they have an incentive to process the work as quickly as possible, without regard to safety, and regulations are nonexistent.

tedd's avatar

I dunno how many it may apply to, but it might be MORE environmentally friendly to not recycle some materials. Something may cause a certain amount of green house gasses to be be remelted down and re-used, whereas it may take less of that same gas to make outright from the start.

This could also apply to things that are more expensive to recycle than just make again because of the same energy input cost needed.

iamthemob's avatar

I think @wilma‘s is best. You’d have to show that there were job-creation benefits that supported not recycling to some extents that outweighed long-term environmental impacts.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t recycle because I like to show how wealthy I am. I’m so wealthy I don’t care if I waste stuff by burying it in a landfill instead of reusing it. My neighbors look at me with derision. I am constantly getting tickets for not recycling. But I don’t care. I got more money than all of them! All of them, I tell you! Ahahahahahahahahaha!

snowberry's avatar

In some areas where we have lived, a recycle center was pretty far away, and we had to drive long distances to find a recycle center. At another center, they did not have the room to store up certain recyclables until they had a semi-load to haul to the main collection center, and they could not afford to take a smaller load.

(And I hope you learn how to spell in English class. As a citizen you have rights. You write a paper).

bob_'s avatar

Well, we’re all going to die anyway…

But yes, as others have said, covenience and short-term economic reasons are your best options. You could also said that, as long as we don’t really need an alternative energy source, the search for one will not be what it should.

WasCy's avatar

If you want to write honestly (which I recommend as a good practice) then it behooves you to write for the opposing side as well as you can, whether you agree with it or not. If you set up straw man arguments then it’s your writing that will suffer, as your arguments will only be good enough… to knock down straw men.

So, if you want some valid objections to recycling (I haven’t read others’ suggestions, since I jumped on your “not as well” statement and responded to that first):

There are costs to recycling which you expect the consumer to absorb. Costs of performing the trash separation, cleaning (which may be required), temporary storage (we pay for our living and storage spaces by the square foot, after all), and hauling several containers full of trash to a pickup point. The costs can be significant; they aren’t “nothing”. Why should a consumer pay the cost of separation of trash streams for someone else to reap a benefit?

There’s also a matter of protection from weather and vermin.

If your end processing facility expects sorted streams of recycled trash, then there may not be anyone watching the stream for contaminants. For example, if your “aluminum” trash contains ordinary steel “tin cans”, who will notice before the tin cans get into the mass of aluminum? (Maybe that’s not a prime example, since any aluminum processor will use magnets to pull steel from the stream, but magnets won’t work with stainless steel, chrome and other non-ferrous metals.)

Smashley's avatar

There’s a number of arguments, really. With some materials, it really does take more energy and produce more toxic byproducts to recycle than it would to dispose of the original in a landfill and produce new material. I wouldn’t focus on the job argument. The existence of a job doesn’t justify the cause of its creation.

Modern landfills are quite well made and usually quite safe. Regulations are in place to limit the possibilities of groundwater pollution, and in their ideal form, a landfill will eventually just become a very usable hillside.

The best argument, in my opinion would be that recycling is deliberately the third choice in the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. It is third, because it is the least effective and least desirable choice, ecologically speaking. There is a large focus on recycling, because it does create jobs, and people can get that fuzzy feeling from recycling without having to change their lifestyles to any great extent. In reality, recycling is, at best, only a mitigating force to the global waste and carbon emission problem. If we were to focus on reducing the things we buy and the packaging on them, and reusing the things we have already, there would be a far greater net ecological benefit.

talljasperman's avatar

so you don’t smell if you forget to wash out the milk containers while stockpiling them inside the house for the bottle depot.

Mat74UK's avatar

We have five separate bins for recycling and we do our best to put the right recyclables in the right bins: Burgundy wheelie-bin for plastics and cardboard, brown wheelie-bin for compostables, green tub for glass, tins and cans, blue tub for paper and card and a large green wheelie-bin for un-recyclables (land-fill).
For your argument during the recent bad weather the local council got behind on the collections and asked us to put both the green and burgundy wheelie-bins out on the same day, this I did only for the bin men to put both bins into the same lorry!!! That made me mad mainly because they can come at anytime and inspect what we have put in each bin and refuse to collect it if the wrong items are in the wrong bins! One rule for them and one for us!
Why do we bother sometimes?

Mischiv's avatar

Thank you for your responses, everyone.
And @snowberry thanks for pointing that out. I try not to be so careless.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I am pro-recycling, but here are a few arguments against it that I have heard against it anyway, will write them out as if I support the argument I’m making.

- We should not recycle, for several reasons. For starters, we should not recycle paper. When you recycle paper you kill trees, this may sound like an obviously lie, but it’s not, it is a fact. Due to the progress of activists and new laws, paper companies now have to fund the planting of new trees. In fact, paper companies are now required to plant two trees for each one they cut down. If you want to help the environment, don’t recycle paper.

- There is no need for humans to clean water. Water purification plants are a waste of money. The earth has a natural cycle of evaporation and rain that cleans the water for us. Water purification is just a scam by water companies to make money. (replace companies with government if needed)

- Recycling is a scam, the only reason they tell people to recycle, is because they want to use people as free workers. They are correct in what they say, it’s not trash, it’s reusable. Recycling companies make money off the public. some things you throw away are worth money. Ever throw away some old cables? copper cable is very valuable, there is even such a thing as copper bullion it’s that valuable. Aluminum cans also have value, computers have gold in them, and much more. don’t be a dummy, they are making you sort your trash so they can melt it, sell it, and then sell it back to you. Don’t recycle.

Note: I do not support any of these arguments, with perhaps the exception of the paper one, depending on if i ever get my facts right.

Nullo's avatar

I heard once that glass takes more energy to recycle than it’s worth.

YARNLADY's avatar

People who recycle might thing it’s OK to buy more stuff because they are responsible about not discarding it.

Nullo's avatar

Recycling, buying eco-friendly foodstuffs and packaging, driving Prii, and probably donating to charity, gives a lot of people the feeling that they’ve paid their Good Person dues, and so they tend to be a bit nastier than usual.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
mattbrowne's avatar

A few things can’t be recycled in a reasonable way. The process would require more resources and energy than creating the thing from scratch. But such cases are the exception.

Nullo's avatar

Then there’s the recycle-vs.-reuse angle. Sometimes, my lunch meat comes in plastic tubs that I keep for storing leftovers. I keep old newspaper to protect surfaces that I’m working over (painting, gun cleaning, etc.)
Glass is cool, but I haven’t worked out a re-use scheme that can match the volume that we output.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Nullo – If glass gets moved by trucks for hundreds or thousands of miles, we got a problem even if we reuse or recycle glass. I drink local beer from bottles produced by a local brewery. There’s a deposit for the empty bottle.

dabbler's avatar

@Nullo glass is a very good thing to recycle as it takes a fraction of the energy to recycle as to make new, though @mattbrowne has a point in cases where there trucking vast distances is necessary the value is diminished. This argument goes away in the long run when the alternative (landfill) gets too unavailable/expensive.
One good reason to Not recycle temporarily that I have heard are some cases where the whole cycle is not really complete due to some missing part of the chain. E.g. not enough recycling facilities to process the volume, until next year when some new plants come online. Or not enough takers yet who can use the recycled raw material. But eventually that landfill capacity thing catches up to us…

YARNLADY's avatar

When doing without or reusing is a better option.

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