Each of the discussion questions below are questions related to this Module. A reply should between 300 and 700 words and may be in video or PowerPoint form. Extra points are given for references, especially in peer reviewed papers and in APA format. References should include links, if applicable. You should subscribe to the discussion and respond to comments from other students.
You are also asked to respond to at least two other students discussion questions for the module they’ve selected. Students are also encouraged to comment to discussions throughout the semester.
1 – Assurance of Proper Waste Diversion
Sometimes waste diverted for recycling cannot find a marketable reuse. This waste is stored and eventually disposed at a landfill sometimes creating environmental issues related to how it was stored. In addition, a considerable quantity of diverted waste has been exported. It is well known that some of that waste has never been reused or recycled and has essentially been disposed of in a way that is less environmental sound than solid waste landfilling. An example of this is when recycled goods were sent to China and then actually ended up in giant uncontrolled waste piles. The US simply exported a commodity that resulted in a worse environmental impact than landfilling here in the US.
How might waste recycling or reuse be assured? What kind of precautions should be required for recycled commodity export?
Discussion Question 2 – Creating Markets for Reuse
The fact that something can be recycled doesn’t in itself create a market for that commodity. When laws and regulations are created to divert something from disposal, the market is instantly flooded with material, often driving the price negative. It can be argued that diversion mandates, in fact, regulate the wrong end of the recycling market and that requiring manufactures to acquire larger portion of their raw materials from reclaimed materials would be overall, more productive. However, disposal has proven easier to regulate the production.
Do you agree or disagree with the regulation of manufacturing to require reuse of recycled raw materials? Sometimes recycling is more expensive than raw materials. Should businesses be compensated for that difference? Are there other ways that recycling markets might be encouraged?
Discussion Question 3 – Solid Waste Incineration
Solid waste incineration is an obvious choice in places where land is limited. In addition, incineration can produce a lot of energy partly off-setting the cost of solid waste disposal. Also, there can be up to 90% reduction in landfill volume. Even though incineration produces small amounts of unavoidable air pollution, it is unquestionably much less than air pollution from landfilling. However, incineration doesn’t encourage source reduction given that many of the things which burn well can also be recycled. Landfills can also produce energy but in doing so, may also generate enormous greenhouse gas emissions.
Considering the advantages and disadvantages of solid waste incineration, do you feel this might be an appropriate technology for Southern California where it is extremely difficult to find landfill space near waste sources? Are greenhouse gas emissions enough of a concern to off-set concerns about source reduction? Discuss.