Illustrative Essay: Americans are not a Wasteful People
Illustrative Essay: Americans are not a Wasteful People
The United States of America is one amongst the world’s leading developed countries. The States are highly industrialized and its citizens enjoy benefits of innovation, technology, health care and high standards of living. However, being a high income and high industry country the USA produces a large amount of waste as well. Reports are published about the high waste generation per person per year, and USA ranks the top most in these statistics. However, such statistics do not paint the complete picture of the waste production and management scenario that goes on in the states. The United States has some of the best waste management systems in the world and recycling is done for any and every possible recyclable material. The following paper is a discussion of why the US and its citizens are not wasteful.
Waste is any unwanted product that is produced during the act of production or consumption of any commodity (Shaw, 2003). However, what exactly can be considered as a waste is debatable and therefore under speculation at all times. Waste today is accounted to be generated by people as well as industries. The waste generated by people through consumption falls under the category of municipal waste and accounts for a considerable amount of waste generated per day in the US, nearly four pounds of waste per person per day. Going alone by the facts and figures of the waste produced, the US is counted as the highest waste producing high income country in the world. However, these facts and figures do not take account of the amount of waste that is recycled afterwards and the rapidly developing policies in various states aimed at decreasing waste production and increasing recycling of waste and other forms of waste management.
Consider the fact that two hundred and fifty one million tons of waste is produced in the United States. This waste contains recyclable as well as non-recyclable wastes. Bio-degradable non-recyclable wastes become part of landfills while recyclable ones, irrespective of their bio-degradability, are recycled throughout the United States. Statistics from the year 2012 show that more fifty three percent of all the paper products go through recycling. This constitutes a nearly thirty three percent of total waste recycled all over the country. Recycling has been a tremendous form of waste reduction and management method in the states and past decade has seen approximately one hundred percent increase in the total waste recycling in the US. There are nearly eight thousand seven hundred curb-side recycling programs in the United States. Aluminum is mostly generated from recycled waste and recycling aluminum saves more than ninety percent of the energy required to generate new aluminum. With these figures the total amount of waste recycled per head in the United States becomes one and a half pounds, one of the best rates in the world. Also the waste management is not the only initiative to discuss. Increased sophistication of landfills, increasing areas of temperate forest covers and improved technology to reduce the production waste are all present as far as the ecology of United States is of concern. Many countries do not even possess the basic facilities that can deliver such outcomes.
The United States lacks a centralized law to address the problem of waste production and management. However, each state has its own laws to maintain and manage the waste production, management and recycling rates. Some states even levy punitive fines on putting recyclable waste into landfills. The states have two approaches towards waste management. Some states levy bans on deposit of recyclable waste in landfills for example North Carolina, Minnesota and Michigan. Many other states like California and Illinois, aim at setting up awareness for waste management amongst citizens through recycling goals. Considering the fact that state authority awareness is at play is a significant fact in understanding the amount of awareness the people of US have towards their environment. One article on Waste Management program in Seattle Public Utilities explains how applying rules to refrain people from disposing recyclable waste was welcomed by the people both in the household as well as corporates (Langston, 2006). This is proof that people are supportive of initiatives for waste managements. In fact the waste management system in the US is much better in comparison to the oldest waste management systems in the world including the one existing in the United Kingdom (Shaw, 2003).
It is true that a lot of waste is produced in the United States everyday each year. However, this does not mean that the people of United States are a wasteful kind. There is awareness for the necessity of conservation and management policies as well as initiatives are in place that define the level of awareness of the people and the state towards conservation of ecology and resources. Increasing temperate forests, state of the art landfills and economical recycling facilities coupled with cheap waste transportation in the states are evidence that people are responsible for the waste they produce and make efforts to cancel out the effects of the produced waste.
Langston, J. (2006) Mandatory recycling program working well. P-I interview Report. SeattlePi. Hearst Seattle Media. Available at http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Mandatory-recycling-program-working-well-1198413.php
Shaw, J.S. ed. (2003) Eight Great Myths of Recycling. PERC Policy Series. Issue Number PS-28 ISSN 1094-655