10 Ways Recycling Hurts the EnvironmentSubmitted by chris cudnoski on Thu, 10/31/2013 - 04:38
Andrew Handley January 27, 2013
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People talk about recycling like it’s some sort of superhero—just by throwing that plastic bottle in the green bin, you’re doing your part to punch pollution in its oily kidneys and leave the world a greener, healthier place. And yeah, re-using old materials is a great way to reduce the impact on the environment . . . if it works. But sometimes the theory is better than the practice. Here are ten ways recycling actually hurts the environment.
Paper Sludge Is Just Disgusting
When paper is recycled, it’s all mixed together into a pulp. That pulp is washed, cleaned, and then pressed into new paper sheets. During that process, wastes like paper fibers, inks, cleaning chemicals, and dyes are filtered out into one giant pudding known as paper sludge. The sludge is then either burned or sent to a landfill, where it can leach dozens of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into groundwater.
If you think that there would be regulations against that, you’d be right. But there’s one loophole: mixing anything else with the paper sludge, even just sand, turns it from waste into a product. And there are no regulations against tossing tens of thousands of tons of your product into a landfill.
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