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Recycling Reconsidered

The Present Failure and Future Promise of Environmental Action in the United States

Samantha MacBride

Publication Year: 2011

How the success and popularity of recycling has diverted attention from the steep environmental costs of manufacturing the goods we consume and discard.

Published by: The MIT Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5

Contents

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pp. v-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

Acronyms and Abbreviations

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pp. xi-xii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-22

We are at an important moment in natural and social history. State action and widespread public concern, organized at scales ranging from local to global, are rapidly mounting to confront material burdens of industrial production and mass consumption that have accumulated over past centuries. The unintended consequences of the overuse of nature’s...

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Chapter 1. Rags and Bottles

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pp. 23-48

In 2002, I toured a glass-beneficiation facility, a plant whose sole purpose was to ready recycled glass to make new bottles, fiberglass, and high-end sand substitute. Beneficiation facilities are a second stop after glass containers go through a first round of sorting at a materials recovery facility (abbreviated as MRF and called a “murf ” in the recycling business)...

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Chapter 2. Curbside Recycling Collection

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pp. 49-86

In the previous chapter, I showed that the recycling movement was willing to accept uncritically the notion that glass should join metal and paper as materials worth collecting for recycling in cities. This acceptance entailed their acknowledgment of a certain amount of leadership by the glass container industry, which stepped into a new role to fill that of the...

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Chapter 3. Tonnage and Toxicity: The Nonissue of Nonhazardous Industrial Waste

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pp. 87-124

I have spent my adult life studying and working in one way or another with garbage. As a result, I have spent a great deal of time looking at data on waste quantities and composition — how much municipal solid waste is produced in a city, state, or country; what materials make up different waste flows; how much is disposed and how much goes to...

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Chapter 4. Scale and Sufficiency: Zero Waste and the Quest for Environmental Justice

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pp. 125-172

In 2008, U.S. cities sent about 33 percent of their urban discards off to be made something new rather than dumping them (U.S. EPA 2009b; see also appendix I). In total, almost 83 million tons of material were routed back into the economy. This outcome is weighty. It may be true that despite thirty years of serious, if not concerted, efforts to cultivate...

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Chapter 5. Extended Plastics Responsibility: Producers as Reluctant Stewards

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pp. 173-216

In 2009, Jill Fehrenbacher, a Brown-educated architect who writes a blog on environmental design called “ Green Rant, ”fumed to her readership about her recent discovery that New York City’s curbside recycling program limited the plastics it accepted for recycling to bottles and jugs only. Why, she asked, couldn’t concerned citizens put other types of...

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Conclusion

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pp. 217-240

The information I have presented in this book leads me to propose some specific changes in U.S. solid-waste policy and, far more important, to encourage an opening up of discourse and practice within those aspects of the environmental movement that focus on garbage, recycling, and the excesses of consumption. First, I argue for a strong federal role in...

Appendix I: Summary of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Data on Solid-Waste Generation, Disposal, and Recycling in the United States

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pp. 241-242

Appendix II: Summary of Textile and Glass Disposal and Recycling in the United States and New York City

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pp. 243-244

Appendix III: Changes in Quantity and Composition of Municipal Solid Waste over Time

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pp. 245-248

Appendix IV: Fractions of Municipal Solid Waste Suitable for Reuse Using a Model of Repair, Refurbishment, and Retailing

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pp. 249-252

Appendix V: Details on Various Quantities of Different Plastics in Municipal Solid Waste

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pp. 253-256

Appendix VI: Fractions of Municipal Solid Waste Referred to in the Conclusion

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pp. 257-258

Notes

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pp. 259-262

References

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pp. 263-290

Index

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pp. 291-304

Urban and Industrial Environments

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pp. 318-321


E-ISBN-13: 9780262298551
E-ISBN-10: 0262298554
Print-ISBN-13: 9780262016001
Print-ISBN-10: 0262016001

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 7 tables
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Urban and Industrial Environments
Series Editor Byline: Robert Gottlieb