As today's throwaway society consumes more and more products, we also generate more and more waste. Much of this waste gets burned in incinerators or buried in landfills, causing a series of environmental problems including water pollution, air pollution and loss of open space.
But what if we didn't
create waste at all? That ’s the vision of groups like the GrassRoots
Recycling Network (GRRN), INFORM, and ecopledge.com. These organizations
are working to eliminate waste at the source by requiring manufacturers
to take back their products when they are no longer useful. Currently,
75 percent of products discarded in municipal landfills and incinerators
are manufactured. If manufacturers were required to take back products
at the end of the products' lifecycles, they would factor the cost of
waste into the total cost of the product. With what is called “extended
producer responsibility,” reusing, reducing and recycling old products
makes financial sense for product manufacturers—and it gets us closer
to achieving zero waste.
Now, if manufacturers were required to take back their containers in all 50 states rather than being given cost-free unlimited access to municipal landfills and incinerators for their discarded products, they would change the way they produce their bottles: With so many discarded bottles and cans coming back to the manufacturers, it would make financial sense for them to reuse, or at least recycle the containers.
GRRN and the Container
Recycling Institute are working to make sure every state requires manufacturers
to take back their containers. But until that happens, groups like GRRN
and ecopledge.com have been working to persuade Coke and Pepsi to use
25 percent recycled plastic in their bottles. Go to www.grrn.org
for more information
on these campaigns.