Waste Recycling Management in the USA
Americans, who 10 to 15 years ago believed that separate waste collection was not compatible with their mentality, are now conscientiously sorting waste and even annually celebrate Waste Recycling Day.
Waste Recycling Day
Accustomed to being leaders in everything, Americans started thinking about waste management at the end of the 19th century: in 1895, the world’s first waste sorting and recycling center was opened in New York. Even then, in the United States, it was understood that it was more profitable to recycle scrap metal than to manufacture products from primary raw materials.
Thus, the townspeople were encouraged to sort the waste in order to then send it to the waste processing plants, which number is gradually increased. So, by 2000, the level of waste recycling in the country as a whole amounted to 32%. Among the remaining 61% were buried at landfills and 7% were burned.
At that time, the country had 9,700 litter programs for recycling and 3,800 compost facilities. There was also an active promotion of the sorting of solid waste.
In addition, on November 15, the United States celebrates Waste Recycling Day, which was established in 1997. The holiday is intended to draw the attention of Americans to the need for a reasonable attitude to waste: on this day, the government promulgates new laws and sums up old recycling programs, rewards companies that have achieved good results in the field of recycling, in general, encourages Americans to sort in every possible way.
Such propaganda contributed to the fact that the majority of Americans sort waste, although even 10 to 15 years ago, opinion polls showed that they considered separate waste collection inappropriate for their mentality.
Waste collection days
The different US states have specific types of municipal waste collection programs. There are three of them. Local authorities decide which one to choose, and most municipalities encourage residents to sort the waste.
Most often, in houses equipped with a garbage chute, food waste is thrown away, folded in one bag. Anything that cannot be sorted is thrown away in another bag. Old paper is stacked side by side, cans and bottles are placed in a container that is located on the site. All this is then taken out by the scavenger.
In some states, for example, in San Francisco (California), near houses that are not equipped with a garbage chute, special containers are installed for different types of waste: for glass, aluminum cans, plastic packaging and bottles; for paper and cardboard; for food waste.
Later, a garbage truck arrives for these containers, and in some states not even one. For example, in Florida, the population is served by special vehicles with separate compartments: plastic is loaded into one, paper is loaded into the other. A car passes by and picks up food waste.
In other states, separate collection days are organized to collect sorted waste. Local authorities inform the population in advance about the time when everyone can take paper, glass and plastic to the roadway. After that, special cars drive along the street, collecting the sorted waste.
Containers in stores
The Americans are actively sorting waste, thanks to the introduction of differentiated payments for the removal of solid waste. The amount of recycling fees depends on the amount of garbage that is taken out of your home every day. Therefore, it is more profitable to reduce the amount of daily waste and accumulate what can be sorted before the official day of waste collection, because the waste separated by fractions is taken out free of charge.
Someone independently takes paper, glass, plastic to special collectors for garbage to be recycled. Often, such containers are installed near large shopping centers: people come with bags and throw paper, plastic, glass into appropriate containers.
Sometimes bins for old clothes and shoes are also placed near the shops – they are then handed over to those in need. There are also special collection points for old things, where you can give away unnecessary sweaters or jeans. Also in stores – most often in those that sell household appliances – there are special containers where you can bring old batteries.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Litter bins can also be seen on the streets of American cities. They usually have three compartments: for newspapers and papers, for bottles and other glass, and for everything else.
Vending machines for bottles and cans are installed in US stores. Many people take advantage of this, because in the United States they use the deposit system. It assumes that when buying goods in containers that can be recycled, a certain amount (about 10 cents) is already included in the price of the goods as collateral. By handing over this jar or bottle, you can get your money back.
In addition, over the past three decades, the United States has been implementing a nationwide RRR – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle program. According to it, by the end of 2020, the country plans to achieve recycling of 20 million tons of garbage per year and reduce the number of landfills.
Recycled glass houses and landfill gas
Local authorities are trying to capitalize on existing landfills, with some, mostly in the Midwest and California, collecting and disposing of landfill gas. Methane released from decay has a strong greenhouse effect, and its use as a fuel helps to reap financial benefits and minimize CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
In an effort to reduce the number of landfills for waste disposal, the state actively supports those enterprises that are engaged in waste processing. There are more than 550 waste processing plants in the United States, and more and more often in the US market you can see goods made from their products: in stores they sell things in recycled packaging, postcards, bags, napkins, notebooks are made from waste paper.
Glass is being recycled into building components: Las Vegas, for example, has opened the largest building at 9,150 square meters, built from half a million recycled glass beer bottles.
In addition, there are factories for recycling that waste that cannot be sorted. One of these plants, using a special technology, converts household waste into liquefied gas, which is subsequently used as fuel for cars and trucks – 13 m³ of liquefied gas is produced per day.
Fostering a rational attitude to waste begins in the United States as early as childhood: the school pays a lot of attention to environmental issues, students are explained how important it is to reduce and properly sort waste. Moreover, competitions for the collection of waste paper or plastic containers are regularly held.
The school program provides 100 compulsory hours of volunteering, which includes cleaning the streets. Often, students participate in the “Adopt Territory” program: within the framework of it, children take patronage over a part of the square, park, forest and maintain order there.
In this way, the government hopes to form a new type of Americans who, from a young age, will care about the environment and control the level of waste in their own homes and in the country.
Category: General Issues
Tags: New York, recycle trash, USA