When talking with the public about how to start a recycling practice, you will begin to encounter similar questions and reasons for not recycling from your friends, family, coworkers, etc. Here you'll find answers to the most frequently asked questions we hear, common reasons why people in Kanawha County avoid recycling and talking points to get conversations started.
Frequently Asked QuestionsEdit
We have compiled a list of the questions we receive most often on the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority website. Common questions include things like, "How do I recycle plastic?" and "What can I do with my old paint?" Visit our site to see the full list .
Along with the confusion that goes along with how to recycle, there are also a lot of misconceptions about the recycling process in general. Here are the explanations to the Top 5 Recycling Myths we hear the most:
RECYCLING MYTH: Recycling just becomes trash.
- While it is true that contamination can render some materials unfit for recycling (such as food residue on paper products), recycling corporations work hard to find markets for materials that are recycled. Some materials will eventually find their way to the landfill or incinerator simply because they should not have been recycled in the first place. Educating consumers about what can and cannot be recycled will help in reducing the amount of materials that eventually must be disposed as waste.
RECYCLING MYTH: There is plenty of landfill space, so why bother. Also, landfills are safe disposal options.
- Landfills can be major sources of groundwater pollution. For example, leachate from solid waste landfills is similar in composition to that of hazardous waste landfills.
- Municipal solid waste landfills are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States, accounting for about 34% of these emissions, which are a potent cause of global warming.
- Recycling's true value comes from preventing pollution and saving natural resources and energy, not landfill space.
- Recycling is largely responsible for averting the landfill crisis.
- The number of landfills in the United States is steadily decreasing - from 8,000 in 1988 to 1,858 in 2001. The capacity, however, has remained relatively constant. New landfills are much larger than in the past.
RECYCLING MYTH: We are already recycling as much as we can.
- The national recycling rate is about 30% and the U.S. EPA has set a goal of 35%. Many easily recycled materials are still thrown away. For example, 78% of glass containers, 60% of aluminum cans, 41% of steel cans, and 45% of paper, paperboard containers and packaging are not currently recycled.
- Many Americans focus on recycling in the kitchen, but forget about products and packaging consumed elsewhere, like bathrooms, laundry rooms and garages.
- Americans are increasingly on the go, and we can do much more to make recycling convenient in public places, from downtown streets to shopping malls and sports stadiums.
- We are nowhere near our potential, especially if manufacturers make products easier to recycle.
RECYCLING MYTH: Someone goes through the trash and pulls out the recyclables before it goes to the landfill.
- Anything thrown into the trash will end up in the landfill. The labor required to sort through trash after it has already been mixed is prohibitive and almost never happens. The only feasible way of separating recyclables is "source separation," meaning each person separates their trash at the time they throw it away. The only effort here is the difference between throwing trash into one bin or another.
RECYCLING MYTH: Material placed in a landfill will decompose.
- Landfills are designed so that little oxygen or moisture flows through - two essential components of decomposition. Landfills are not meant to break down trash, but rather to bury it. This design helps prevent decomposing materials from contaminating groundwater. Thus recycling creates more space in landfills and lessens the chance of trash leeching into our soil and water.
Here are some reasons to recycle to help you get conversations started:
- Our natural resources are finite and should be preserved for future generations
- Each person produces 4 ½ pounds of trash every day
- 75% of waste has the potential to be either be recycled, composted or reused
- 1 ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees; if we recycled all of newspapers, we could save 250 million trees each year
- Americans use 4 million plastic bottles every hour and throw away 35 billion each year; it takes 1 plastic bottle 700 years to break down in the landfill
- Americans use 80 billion aluminum cans each year; it takes 1 aluminum can 500 years to break down in a landfill
- Americans use 102.1 billion plastic bags each year; plastic bags do no biodegrade, it turns into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil and water and are expensive and difficult to remove
- No limit for the number of times glass and aluminum may be recycled
- See “Why Recycle?” section for more ideas