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Topics Homepage> Recycling does more harm than good

Recycling does more harm than good

PRO (9 assertions)


Harm than good- whether it does more harm than good to the world

Recycling- the reusing of paper-and only paper- through processes that convert this material into viable products (Merrimam Webster)

Why paper only? Because paper makes up over 52% of all recycled products, according to the Council for Sustanable Development. And, since this debate is about more harm than good, if we can and will prove that paper recycling is harmful, then we should win this debate.

1. Assertion: Alternative Plan: Recycling isn’t as good as incinerating

Reasoning: Incineration does all the good that recycling does minus the cons. Not only is it cost effective, but it produces energy and is used with correct technology and methods, create less atmospheric pollution than recycling. And can we have both recycling and incineration? No, because recycling takes away the fuel that incineration needs.

Evidence: According to the Royal Institute of Ecology and Environmental Pollution, incineration produces very low levels of emissions (even less than recycling on average if done using modern technology) and reduces the volume of waste to be land filled by 90%. Also, incineration can produce enough energy to power Britain’s five largest cities, according to Professor William Powrie, head of the Environmental Engineering department at Southampton University.

2. Assertion: Recycling actually harms the environment

Reasoning: Due to the lack of commonplace recycling centers, the common citizen doesn’t possess a nearby recycling facility just around the black. Products that a person wants recycled must go around the globe just to get a single building to be crushed and reused. In the end tally, the environmental impact of recycling, the energy it wastes, the CO2 it pumps into the atmosphere and the time and money it takes is far greater than that if it was just placed in a landfill.

Evidence: According to the British ecologists who make up the British Royal Institution, “The idea that recycling is a solution to everything is not valid. Recycling glass has marginal benefit, and if you have to transport it large distances, as is the case many times, then there is actually a negative result. Recycling paper, also, is actually worse for the environment even excluding transportation costs to the environment.”

3. Assertion: Recycling hurts businesses and trees

Reasoning: When recycled paper competes with paper that comes from trees, it pushes the demand for tree farming down. To compensate, tree farmers are forced to lower their prices. This lowers profit margins, and as such, firms leave the industry, people become unemployed, and the economy is hurt.

Also, on a more environmental note, the land that was once used to cultivate trees will, after these unemployed tree farmers leave their land, be turned into framing something else less environmentally friendly or sold to real estate developers to destroy the land and put up pollution emitting houses. Hence, there are less trees, resulting in less carbon dioxide regulation in the atmosphere, unemployed tree farmers, and tons of pollution emitting houses in the end.

Evidence: This sad chain of events has, according to EPA, occurred to over 16 different, large tree plantations in the last 6 months, taking about 10,000 trees off of the Earth.

4. Assertion: Recycling costs more money than it would to just remake the material

Reasoning: Right now, recycling may seem to be a cheap, 100% environmentally friendly way to make paper and plastic, but as already proven, it is 0% environmentally friendly, and is not cheap, thus making recycling inefficient and doing more harm than good.

Evidence: According to a CNN article, the reason why recycling seems so cheap is because the costs are subsidized by the government, which hides the true costs. The only way that recycling a newspaper, for instance, would be cheaper would be if you read the same exact newspaper everyday. Transportation, chemical treatment, processing of the paper, and the repackaging of it all cost more than to just process new paper and repackage it. In other words, if you go to a recycling center and are paid for the scrap paper you bring, you are actually being paid with your own tax money to support an inherently wasteful process.

Assertions #5, 6, 7, 8, 9

CON (4 assertions)

No framework

1. Assertion: Recycling helps the environment

Reasoning: Recycling does more good than harm because it helps out the environment. By using materials that were already created and by breaking them down to produce new goods, we don’t need to spend all the time, money, and extra resources to create those products if recycling didn’t exist. Furthermore, if items weren’t recycled, they would end up in landfills and pollute our earth.

Evidence: Recycling is generally far better than sending waste to landfills and relying on new raw materials to drive the consumer economy. It takes two-thirds less energy to make products from recycled plastic than from virgin plastic. By the last official measure in 2005, Americans recycle an estimated 32 percent of their total waste, which averages nearly a ton per person per year, around a third of which is plastic. Our recycling efforts save the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing 39.6 million cars from the road. Also, recycling paper removes the need to cut down trees. And lastly, in 2006, the United States recycled 32 percent of its waste according to the Environmental Protection Agency. This is the energy equivalent to saving more than 10 billion gallons of gasoline.

Impact: Recycling benefits our environment and our communities by eliminating unnecessary, massive landfills, by preventing greenhouse gases, and by saving energy.

Source: Discover Magazine, Earth 911, Environmental Protection Agency

2. Assertion: Recycling raises people’s self-confidence and increases awareness

Reasoning: When people recycle, they feel as if they are helping the environment. By putting just one can into a blue recycling bin, some people believe they’re helping out their community and preventing pollution. This is a GOOD effect. It raises awareness for protecting nature and the environment and it increases people’s morale and willingness to help nature. People simply love to recycle and the act makes them feel better.

Evidence: “I recycle because I feel like I’m being a good person or a contributing person to the community, that it’s something that I should do. My name is Amanda Enclade and I recycle.”

Impact: Just one act of recycling can do so much for the environment and for our communities. It can increase awareness for protecting the environment and it makes people feel good.

Source: David Wood, Executive Director of Grass Roots Recycling Network

3. Assertion: Recycling creates jobs and helps the economy

Reasoning: In our times, many people do not have jobs. However, without recycling, many, many people wouldn’t have jobs. The truth of the matter is that recycling produces a large number of jobs for a large number of people. Certainly, with job losses at a high, that’s a good effect. On a per-ton basis, sorting and processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration. However, making new products from the old offers the largest economic pay-off in the recycling loop. New recycling-based manufacturers employ even more people and at higher wages than does sorting recyclables. Some recycling-based paper mills and plastic product manufacturers, for instance, employ on a per-ton basis 60 times more workers than do landfills. Furthermore, with all these jobs created, great sums of money are added to the economy.

Evidence: In North Carolina, recycling industries employ over 8,700 people. The job gains in recycling in this state far outnumber the jobs lost in other industries. For every 100 recycling jobs created, just 10 jobs were lost in the waste hauling and disposal industry, and 3 jobs were lost in the timber harvesting industry. A 1992 survey in Washington found that this state had created 2,050 recycling-based jobs since 198Massachusetts employs more than 9,000 people in more than 200 recycling enterprises. These businesses represent more than half a billion dollars in value added to the state's economy. In California, meeting the state's 50% recycling goal is expected to create about 45,000 recycling jobs, over 20,000 of which are slated to be in the manufacturing sector. In Iowa, a 2001 study found that recycling-related end-use manufacturing operations sustain over 23,000 jobs and generate nearly $3.33 billion in total industrial output. The direct manufacturing jobs in Iowa's recycling industry typically support high wages, on average $47,700 per job. Of the entire US nation, $100 billion and 1 million jobs are created just because of recycling.

Impact: Recycling is a stable economic foundation that generates plenty of money for the country and plenty of jobs for the people.

Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance, The ReMarketable News, California Integrated Waste Management Board, White House Task Force on Recycling, Department of Environmental Protection

4. Assertion: Recycling replaces landfills

Reasoning: We are running out of room for landfills. Recycling is good because it replaces the need for such things. If we recycle materials, we can reuse them over and over again without the need to dump them off in a place where they will be incinerated and then thrown in a massive trash collection. Recycling solves all that.

Evidence: According to the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), the United States has about 20 years of disposal capacity left in existing landfills. There are, however, places where space is getting tight: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, New Hampshire and Rhode Island all have less than five years capacity, and the northeastern part of the country in general has the least available landfill space.
Impact: We will no longer need to clear large areas to dump our trash. Instead, we can build small facilities that will make our used products into something new again.

Source: Popular Mechanics (magazine)