Editor’s Note: This is a new weekly column by the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Framingham.
Residents can submit questions to Recycling Coordinator Stephen Sarnosky via SOURCE at editor@FraminghamSource.com
FRAMINGHAM – In past articles we have been discussing what should be recycled and what should be placed in the trash.
Mostly, they hear that they should do it because it’s the right thing to do.
However, evidence shows that we must make the choice to recycle. One action from one person might not seem like it makes an impact. However, a culture of similar acts makes a huge difference.
Daily, every person creates around 4.7 pounds of waste. Just that number alone makes recycling important.
Since recycling is so intertwined with the environment, the first primary overarching reason is care towards the environment.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which significantly contributes to global warming. Manufacturing certain products release a lot more carbon dioxide than recycling them would.
Aluminum is the best example of this. Manufacturing new aluminum goods produce 95% more carbon dioxide than recycling old aluminum objects. Recycling a ton of aluminum means reducing 12 tons of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Recycling 35,116 tons of material is equivalent to taking 22,140 cars off the road. By giving material to recycle, you allow for the production of recycled products to happen.
Another example of this would be the production of paper. Trees use up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis.
It is estimated that one tree absorbs almost 250 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. For each ton of paper that is recycled, 15 trees are saved from being cut down.
By reusing recyclable products, it helps in keeping our natural resources to a great extent. Once an old newspaper is recycled, we do not need to use the resource of another tree to produce new paper products. This way, proper recycling can help us preserve our natural resources for our future generation and maintain the balance in nature.
The second overarching reason has to do more with the human element: helping with human health.
The introduction of hazardous substances in the form of plastics, empty cans, chemicals, and ordinary waste into the environment contaminates our environment.
Though the trash looks harmless, improper deterioration can allow for the manufacturing chemicals to get into the air and the water.
Plastic waste, in particular, is responsible for causing increased soil and water pollution.
Plastic recycling is an effective solution to this problem. The recycling process involves recovering used materials from plastic waste, which is then used in the manufacturing industry.
Landfills contribute to the mishandling of waste and currently have two major problems attributed to them: scarcity and pollution.
In Massachusetts, landfills are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
People living in the vicinity of such poorly run landfills are at significant health risk as it causes severe air pollution. Thus, recycling a large percentage of landfill waste could help to reduce environmental issues and ease the burden on these dumping sites.
If landfills are allowed to accumulate, they can impact the quality of groundwater. Most landfill management companies do not make any effort to treat their landfills. They only throw the waste in a dug-up hole and bury it.
A significant percentage of waste thrown in landfills is neither eco-friendly nor biodegradable and the contaminants in these wastes may find its way into the groundwater supply.
This contamination typically happens when rainwater or runoff water coming from landfills meander through the land to water bodies such as streams, rivers, and lakes. This phenomenon destroys the already fragile ecosystems and renders the once fresh and safe waters risky to drink. Recycling waste will prevent the continuity of this dangerous cycle.
Poor disposal and accumulation of waste in landfills leads to the emission of toxic and infectious gasses. If these gasses are inhaled over time, they may lead to a wide range of respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Also, if the toxic liquids draining from landfills find a way into water sources, infectious diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, and dysentery could spread.
A reader asked a question about whether or not he should peel the paper off glass bottles and containers before placing them in his cart?
Thank you for your question. The important part about recycling glass is making sure that the container is free of any food residue before it is processed. The recycling process is designed to remove paper from the glass before it is processed. Most glass these days is recycled into aggregate
to be used in road construction and other such projects.