Although many benefits and programs are set for recycling at Huntington Beach, there are other benefits for improved recycling facilities and programs that the Beach can benefit from, if implemented. The purpose of this proposal is to help identify the need and benefits of improved recycling measures in Huntington Beach.
There is a current crisis in the management of wastes facing the US, Huntington Beach included. Although the beach has taken measures to improve waste management, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported an increase in the amount of waste produced daily in the past few years from 2.7 to 4.4 pounds a day (EPA n.p.). Even with the passage of the Assembly Bill 341 by the lawmakers in 2011, which created an obligation for recycling for some commercial businesses and multi-family properties, recycling still remains an expensive affair (City of Huntington Beach n.p.). This worsens especially with the thinning of landfills and the protests of citizens for having landfills close to their homes (Miller, Nguyen and Sifleet 8).
With the problem of landfills and the protests from citizens, recycling has the potential of combating the landfills problem. Evidence from EPA shows that recycling has prevented about 64 million tons of material from ending up in landfills and incinerators (Miller, Nguyen and Sifleet8). It is for this reason that there should be increased efforts to enhance the level and rate of recycling in Huntington Beach. The benefits of recycling and immeasurable, and given that recycling has worked in other places, the same results are achievable in Huntington Beach. Among the benefits of recycling are:
- It is an effective and practical solution to waste disposal and management.
- Recycling is prospective in the conservation of natural resources, reducing the necessity for landfills as well as help in the prevention of future environmental degradation.
- By recycling, Huntington Beach will be following the mandate of the California Integrated Waste Management Act, which is mandatory for all cities in California.
The solid waste still takes up the lion’s share of trash; about one-third of dumps consist of packaging material most of which are recyclable. Moreover, research shows that America alone produces about 40 percent of the world’s waste, with each person producing about 1,609 pounds of trash annually, which essentially means that 5 percent of the world’s population (America) produces the largest share of garbage (EPA n.p.). Noteworthy, however, is the fact that it is possible to reverse this trend through recycling. According to Jowit, recycling still remains the best way to take care of waste, inclusive of exports. According to a report by the UK government, a look at different materials including wood and textile, garden cuttings and food as well as a comparison of different methods of waste disposal including recycling, compositing, incineration and landfill point to recycling as the best method of disposal (Jowit n.p.). The comparison of the different waste disposal methods included a number of criteria such as energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use and other resources.
Recycling remains the best option even when the waste is exported overseas to countries such as China for recycling. It is considerable that within the international economy, recycling remains the most effective, practical and safe method of waste disposal in comparison with other methods of waste management (Jowit n.p.). The reason behind this assessment is that the materials still find its way back to the country of origin as finished product with less impact on the environment. Additionally, it only makes sense to recycle rather than produce or buy other products serving the same purpose. Shopping packages, being some of the main sources of waste, are recyclable, pointing to recycling as the most practical and cheapest way of waste management and disposal. Thus, instead of using new packages every day or every time one goes for shopping, recycling the packaging tremendously reduces the amount of trash available for recycling.
It is apparent that most of the natural resources are finite and with the continued use, are fast nearing depletion. This process (depletion) is gravitated by the increase in the use of disposable products and packaging (Torre 6). Projections by EPA indicate that in 2014, America produced 218 million tons of waste; 152 million tons from the total tons of waste produced went into landfills and incinerators (Torre 6). Such a heavy use and disposal rate has the potential of depleting the natural resources in minerals and petroleum. It is however considered to note that reprocessing of used material in the manufacture of new products and for packaging helps in the reduction of consumption of these natural resources. Torre intimates that the recycling of steel saves 2,500 pounds of iron ore, with an additional saving of limestone and coal. Such saving in many ways than one helps in the conservation of natural resources as well as help in the prevention of environmental degradation by keeping the earth intact (Torre 6). Even more is that recycling produces better products, which are more valuable than the original products. This is because recycling refines the products much better than the processing of the raw materials. In essence, therefore, the products produced by recycling are of a superior quality and more valuable than those produced by virgin raw materials.
Further, recycling helps in the reduction of energy use. It is worth mentioning that the processing of raw materials puts heavy demands on energy (Goldman and Ogishi 20). With 3 percent of energy in America used in the production of packaging, recycling/reuse of the processed material helps reduce energy and the need for mining, refining and other manufacturing processes. This also means a reduction in the need for raw materials most of which come from natural resources. This way, recycling indeed helps in the conservation of natural resources.
According to the Huntington Beach government, the Assembly Bill 939 signed by the California governor in 1989 that created the California Integrated Waste Management Act was a reaction to the solid waste management problem that had become an issue in not only California, but the whole country as well. The new Act therefore put in place stringent requirements for California and cities in the state to divert the dumping of solid waste from landfills by recycling the wastes and employing other waste reduction programs (City of Huntington Beach n.p.). The Act required the diversion of a minimum of 25 percent of the waste streams from landfills in each jurisdiction. This mandate grew to 50 percent in (Helou, Tran and Buncio 1). Recycling, for the city of Huntington Beach is therefore not only a program but also a mandate provided by law, which the city must therefore find ways of satisfying. By adhering to these mandates, the city will save on waste disposal costs, which have been increasing over the years. According California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, annual tipping fee costs have been increasing in California from $30-$35 per ton between 1995 and 2000 to $52-$54 between 2000 and 2010 (p. 35). This means by recycling, Huntington Beach will save on the cost of landfill tipping fees, which can be diverted to other economic ventures.
Waste disposal and management is a current and persistent problem in the US and in Huntington Beach. There is, therefore, need for action. Recycling offers the safest and best method for waste management and disposal with a number of benefits. It is effective and practical; it has the potential for the conservation of natural resources and the satisfaction of the Assembly Bill 939 mandate. It is important therefore that the city considers recycling, and works towards surpassing the 50 percent set by the Act in the next two years.
California Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery.Landfill Tipping Fees in California.CalRecycle, 2015.Web. 5 November 2015
City of Huntington Beach.State Mandated Waste Reduction and Recycling (Integrated Waste Management Act). Huntington Beach, 2015.Web. 5 November 2015
EPA.Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures 2007. EPA, 2008.Web. 5 November 2015
Goldman, G., &Ogishi, A.The Economic Impact of Waste Disposal and Diversion in
California: A Report to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. Berkeley,
CA: California Integrated Waste Management Board, 2011. Web. 5 November 2015
Helou, Alexander, Tran, Kim and Buncio, Cecile. “Energy recovery from municipal solid waste in California: Needs and Challenges.” Proceedings of the 18th Annual North American Waste-to-Energy Conference, 2010.Web. 5 November 2015
Jowit, Juliette. “recycling still the most effective waste disposal method, report finds.” The Guardian, 2010.Web. 5 November 2015
Miller, Alexander, P., Nguyen, Hang, T. and Sifleet, Samantha, D.The Economic Benefits of Recycling in Virginia.Virginia: Virginia Department of Quality, 2007.Web. 5 November 2015
Torre, Frank. Humanics and the Environment.Web. 5 November 2015