- Mar 17, 2010
- Member Type
- English Teacher
- Native Language
- Home Country
- Current Location
Environment sense makes economic sense:
In 1968, Glyn Heaps was getting just £9 a week at a large glass company near Liverpool in Britain. When he heard that the organization had a growing problem with paper waste, he immediately said, 'I 'll take it.'
He bought an old truck and took the waste to his mother's garden. There, he and his wife sorted and packed it and then sold it to local paper manufacturers. Soon they were recycling and selling a ton a week – and making £40.
With Glyn's daughter Rachel now the head of the company. The original husband-and-wife business has grown into Centrol Recycling Group. Today, Centrol employs 100 people and recycles 250,000 tons of paper, metal, glass, plastic and wood every year. The company is continuing to grow rapidly in Britain and is starting new companies abroad. Clearly, recycling has become big business.
How has this happened? Well, to start with, we all produce a lot more waste than we used to. In most developed economies, the amount is around one ton per person per year. Moreover, the waste has become harder to deal with. Most plastic, for example, does not break down and will last for thousands of years. Increasing quantities are also toxic: Things like oil and paint are very poisonous.
Traditional methods of waste disposal were careless and have become environmentally unacceptable. Most rubbish used to be dumped or burned, either on land or at sea. Uncontrolled are, ground and water pollution were the result. Today, everyone understands that waste disposal needs expert skills.
Burying rubbish – 'landfill' remains the most common form of waste disposal, but it is becoming an expensive choice. This is partly because landfill sites now have to be carefully constructed to prevent pollution – toxic leaks into the ground, for example. It is also because the world is running out of holes in the ground to fill with waste. Both of these changes are making landfill more and more expensive.
Due to disposal costs alone, it therefore now makes good economic sense to recycle as much as possible. Moreover, there are several other major economic points to consider.
Recycling has positive cost advantages in itself. Making a completely new aluminium can costs 20 times as much as recycling an old one. Similarly, the world now makes a quarter of its new steel form recycled metal, and the USA has recently raised this to a third. Recycling therefore saves the producer money and helps to limit consumer price rises.
Recycling also creates a lot of jobs. In America, for example, more people now work in recycling than in metal mining. There are thousands of different sorts of jobs, too. On the one hand, there is the Indian worker who turns old car tyres [AE: tires] into water pipes for the farming industry. On the other hand, there is the IT expert at Centrol who has designed a program to show new customers the environmental effects of recycling. He can do this in many different ways – from cuts in emissions to the number of trees that it can save.
In today's world, then, recycling not only makes very good environmental sense, but also extremely good economic sense.