Sample Argumentative Study Paper on Can Recycling Be Bad For the Environment?

Recycling basically refers to the process of manufacturing new items from products that have already served their original intended purpose. Common recyclable materials are plastic, aluminum and paper, and since they are commonly used material products in households hence they are plenty of them as waste in dirt bins and dump sites or landfills(“Plastics Common Wastes & Materials | US EPA,”). The process is usually a success if the disposed material product is discarded in an appropriate way. Generally, recycling process makes usable products out of disposed waste material hence viewed as economically advantageous. However, there are proponents and opponents to recycling.

Opponents feel that it is better to ‘throw it away’ than recycle while the proponents feel it is better to reuse. Proponents would ask; why throw away products that could be new again? Why not turn trash into raw materials? The differences in stance regarding recycling has often sparked heated debates as to whether it is should be embraced or not. The United States government is using recycling as one of waste management techniques although it is yet clear if it is the best, and what alternatives are available. Based on my opinion, recycling can be bad for the environment. This is considering the greater negativeimpact it has on the environment than the positive significance.


Recycling business fluctuates with demand and supply in the market. This means that there are times when it is demand and supply for recyclable items is high and other times when it is low. Recyclables will be shipped to areas in the market where demand is deemed to be highest and when there is low demand, the products are kept in the warehouses awaiting demand to go up again. However, when demand for recyclables drops completely and for a long period, there will be a possible landfill. Here, factories lack capacity to take in more material since whatever they manufacture lacks market due to low societal and global demand. Such situations makes recycling of zero importance.

Marketing overconsumption as environmentalism. Manufacturers of disposable household products are marketing their products to consumers in the name that they are saving the environment but their main agenda is to increase their sales abnormally. People will always be tempted to buy a product because it is branded environmental friendly and recyclable but the matter at hand here is the overconsumption of a product. Currently, there are high recycling rates of products along with soaring consumption. American consumers now ‘consume mass quantities of unnecessary, disposable goods by dutifully tossing those items into their recycling bins’.

Not all recyclable materials actually get recycled. PVC is an example of a recyclable material although it is almost impossible to recycle it. In regard to PVC, Fishbeck explained ‘technically it’s recyclable, but most recyclers don’t handle the stuff …when it’s melted down it will create brown particles in the resin, creating color problems with the resulting material’. However, some materials are not recyclable because of poor disposal and handling. To enhance proper recycling process, consumers of recyclable materials ought to dispose the items appropriately. Proper disposal involve consumers disposing the products in recycle bins and sites that are accessible by collection systems. Improper disposal, therefore, exposes recyclables to contaminations that makes recycling a tedious process and often unsuccessful.

Selfish plastic industry. The industry has two main masked interests in regard to the recycling activity; supporting recycling i.e. establishing infrastructure for recycling of plastic whereby it ensures that it supplies all required new materials. The industry role plays in justifying overconsumption of highly disposable products whereby consumers know that whatever they discard into recycle bins will be recycled for new products.

Most plastic materials cannot be recycled.Statistics indicate that only 6.8% of all plastics are actually recycled (“Is Recycling Actually Bad for the Environment? – Mic,”).Example of unrecyclable plastics are bioplastics which even if they were recyclable, they just can’t. Fishbeck explained the issue using a common bioplastic called PLA that, ‘ it gets into the recycling stream, it will cause contamination, it will be a defect, and that means we’ll do everything we can to keep it out of the stream and it will become waste’. Still, materials made of plastic would be collected, go through processing, sorted, and then taken to a landfill. However, it may get worse during processing, and in particular sorting and separation, whereby some unrecyclable plastics may slip through when they are not supposed to; and the end plastic products will contain that are not required and may affect users.

Buyer availability and recycling viability. Recyclers will always need a reason to recycle, and the major reason is that there should be a consumer lined up for the intended recyclable product. It will be a waste of resources if they embark on reproducing an item through recycling when there is nobody interested about the product out there. Another issue to consider is the worthiness or viabilityof the intended re-manufacturing whereby there should be enough recyclable material to call for recycling. It would be unworthy to set up plant to recycle negligible material that would otherwise end up taking higher financial costs compared to gains.

Emissions from recycling factories. Recycling of items leads to emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to cause pollution (Hall). Greenhouse gases are detrimental to the global climate as they cause raising of the earth’s atmospheric temperatures and eventually climatic patterns. In Oakland for instance, the recycling industry is one of the highest-rated pollutants in the city(“Air Pollution Controversy Swirls around Oakland Army Base Development | News Fix”). A metal recycler in the city actually was under a threat of being closed due to heavy particulates and gases emitted from its plants.  The emissions cause the air to be unclean and also cause acidic rain that affects iron structures (Hall). The issue of pollution, therefore, raises an alarm as it stands to affect the local community negatively.


Proponents of recycling seem to have real facts, as well.It is unquestionable that recycling products use lesser energy compared to that used in the making of virgin products. Still, it saves the earth especially recycling of paper whereby Mother Nature’s trees are spared (Hall). However, it should be considered that recycling lowers the quality of the product. Most people would prefer to consume virgin or original products rather than recycled ones. Therefore, the cost and energy usage with recycling might be attractive but quality and other resources might be compromised as well.

Recycling is important in eradicating pollution whereby waste products that are considered harmful to the environment are made to be usable again. However, the process may stir up pollution instead of being a mitigating process (Hall). This is because recycling factories and their industry make the best pollutants through emissions of gases and particulates to the atmosphere. It should be understood that we may be trying to avoid pollution only to find we are improving it.

In any case, the major proponents of recycling of disposed waste mainly trade groups representing various packaging interests–plastic, paper, and glass(“Plastics Common Wastes & Materials | US EPA,”). They are the biggest financial sponsors of recycling because they reap huge benefits from recycling activities. The proponents of this waste management technique are mainly concerned about their benefits i.e. financial gains and not that of the consumer i.e. effects of overconsumption disguised as environmentalism.


Recycling is a common practice in today’s world that originates from households. The United States citizens are doing the country great by following directives of disposing wastes appropriately for recycling purposes, but do the people know the cost-benefit of recycling? The recycling process has clearly shown its outright importance to society and the environment. However, as much as it benefits the environment, it also comes at a cost that can be said to be relatively more than the good it brings. This illustrates that recycling is not the sole or utmost solution to solving a waste issue in the world and in particular, the United States. I, therefore, recommend, the country to come up with improved ideas that would help solve waste disposal in the society.

Works Cited

“Air Pollution Controversy Swirls Around Oakland Army Base Development | News Fix.” KQED News. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Apr. 2015.

Hall, Eleanor J. Recycling. Farmington Hills: KidHaven Press, 2005. Print.

“Is Recycling Actually Bad For the Environment? – Mic.” N.p., Web.

“Plastics Common Wastes & Materials | US EPA.” N.p.,