December 2011

Costs of Recycling

Costs of Recycling

By ROUND2 Staff Writers

There is a deep rooted belief that recycling costs more monetarily than standard trash collection. This belief can be attributed to the fees for recycling electronics and rare plastics, and additional processes required to recycle a product. Those who oppose recycling argue that the resources saved are not equal to the costs spent saving them. However, advocates contend that recycling reverses the depletion of our resources and helps prevent future damage to the environment. Recycling decreases the need for landfills, creates new products, saves resources and provides jobs. Funds for waste management and incineration are provided by local governments and taxes, whereas recycling funds are taken from the individual. The hidden cost of trash collection consequently leads to the belief that recycling costs more when in fact, “On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it.” (www. Despite the supported facts recycling continues to be challenged in the U.S.

The most commonly recycled items are metal and plastic and the process used to recycle these items is relatively simple. The process begins with sorting of materials into reusable metals and plastics. Sorted materials are smelted and altered into reusable blocks of raw material. These ready to use plastics and metals are shipped to companies that mold and use them in new product.

Electronics recycling is also a growing concern for the public. If not performed by a certified company, the processes for recycling electronics can be costly, complicated, and dangerous. CRT monitors, Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) and cell phones all have dangerous chemicals and metals that can potentially harm the worker. Not unlike regular recycling, electronics recycling involves disassembly and a smelter. However, many times chemicals must be used to properly extract dangerous materials from the electronics costing more money. In addition, during the smelting process chemicals are used to break down the product even further for reuse. Despite costs and complications these chemical- filled electronics are exponentially more dangerous when they are dumped in a landfill. When electronics are put in landfills harmful chemicals can be leaked into the ecosphere, which contaminates drinking water and exposes an infinite number of people to carcinogens and neurotoxins.

Trash collection is a service run by local governments, meaning tax money often is used towards funding incineration and collection. In select states tax money is used to operate huge landfills. In addition, when these landfills become overridden with garbage they once again use money to make another one.

Aside from the lower costs, recycling creates a larger number of job opportunities than the waste industry. “Recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in the waste management and disposal industries.” (www. Businesses and cities are also benefitting from recycling and have seen a substantial amount of financial savings. For instance, New York City deduced that an efficient recycling system could save the city a whopping $20 million. It’s no surprise that they have signed a 20-year recycling contract.

The most important benefit of recycling is the conservation of natural resources. For instance, “Each ton (2000 pounds) of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water.” (www. Recycling is the best choice for protecting the environment, saving money and providing a secure and valued future.

Information compiled by ROUND2 INC. – ROUND2 INC. is a leading eRecycling service provider offering a wide range of integrated asset disposition, technology recovery and recycling solutions. ROUND2’s revenue-based recycling services allow clients to better manage their end-of-life asset retirement process, technology rotation and data security requirements, while maximizing economic returns. ROUND2 is an R2 Certified, ISO 9001: 2008, ISO 14001: 2004, and OHSAS 18001: 2007 registered company. For more information about ROUND2 INC. please give us a call at 866-6ROUND2 or visit us online at