Readers comments 3-22-19
As a Claremont Colleges student, my heart sunk when I recently saw a cleaning lady on campus dumping everything, trash and recycling, into the same big bin. It reminded me of a podcast that I listened to a few weeks ago, which drew attention to the imperfect recycling system in the United States.
Despite decades of efforts in recycling, most people fail to correctly separate recyclable items from other trash. In fact, due to rigorous recycling standards, it takes tons of time and effort to remove trash from recycled items.
Because this reclassification process was, in most cases, ineffective, many agencies decided to sell those contaminated recycled items to developing countries, including China, instead of dealing with them directly. However, this method of transferring the problem has proven to be a short-term solution, especially when countries like China announced that they are no longer willing to take over the responsibility due to reasons such as environmental externality concerns. As those countries raise their bars for imported recyclable trash, the United States has been forced to handle more of this pressing issue at home.
In consideration of domestic pressure to improve recycling programs, as well as our commitment to sustainability in California, I was triggered when I witnessed this systematic failure in my daily life. Frankly speaking, such behavior was discouraging.
I would like to call for words and action from everyone. We must put theory into practice—both relevant agencies and residents may contribute to a more sustainable future through effective recycling.