A Plan for a viable recycling industry.
We all want to recycle our waste but how do we do this.
To achieve our aim we must make the process economically sustainable, in other words those manage the materials must make a profit. We look at a washing machine sitting on the side of the road and ask ourselves why is this item now worthless and destined for land fill. An item containing a multitude of hard fought for materials, mined from the earth transported around the globe at immense energy cost and now heading for the dump. Surely to god it must be easier to pull the washing machine apart, sort it into its individual components of specific materials and reuse them instead of going out and digging up the minerals from the planet, processing them sending around the planet and then turning them into another washing machine. The washing machine more often than not can be made to work again but no it is discarded because it is cheaper to buy a new one than just fixing it. Cheaper is the key work. Yes it may cost less dollars to buy another machine but it will take a lot more energy and create a lot more damage to our environment than just making the old washing machine work or salvaging the raw materials, reprocessing them and then turning them into something useful.
The Supply side.
To create something useful from recycled materials a manufacturer-processor requires a consistent supply of reliable material and a consistent demand for the products the entity produces.
To overcome the supply/input side of the equation requires a great deal of time and effort. Washing Machines, Television sets, toys, refrigerators, domestic cookers and a myriad of other consumer items that we see discarded by the side of the road, either require repair or they require disassembling, both tasks require an input of labor. The same applies for all of the packaging we use, the plastic and glass , the metal, and paper, it all needs to be sorted into types of various materials prior to arriving at an industrial scale processor for it to become economically sustainable.
This is not impossible to achieve, it is not rocket science it is simple. The people who are doing the sorting have to have a financial incentive to do the sorting, whether it is the primary school, the girl guides, the local charity or the unemployed person or pensioner who wants to earn an extra buck.
Once sorted the material may have a value, for example copper has a value, gold has a value, steel and aluminum have a value. Plastic and paper, electronics may be useful but generally have a lot less value per Kg.
How do we create value. We invent value by creating a deposit on everything we buy when we buy it. As a society we evaluate the value of an item in its raw form and add that to the purchase price. For a drink can or a soft drink bottle it maybe 20cents, for a cardboard box containing a pizza from the supermarket freezer it may be 10cents and for our washing machine it may be $50.00. When the item is purchased the deposit is paid when the item is returned the deposit is repaid. If the initial purchaser chooses to return the product in the required form for processing they have the option of collecting the deposit if they do not want to go through the labor intensive exercise of sorting they can pass their recycled items onto a sorting facility who can collect the deposit.
To reduce the cost of sorting and incentivise the people doing the sorting the government needs to make this a tax free, benefits free zone. That is anyone earning money within this zone needs to be allowed to earn money and not have that income from participating in recycling, impinge upon any benefit they are receiving.
This system would allow people and organisations who want to earn extra money a convenient and easily accessible way to do so. For example if the person collects 100 soft drink containers and sorts them they can arrive with them at a depot and collect a sum of money. All of this sorted material can then be collected by the processor in a state where it has value because it can now be ready for processing.
How do we use this material?
The metals are simple as they can be melted down but frequently they will have to undergo further down stream processing, for example how do we separate the copper wire from the insulation without generating a massive amount of toxic fumes? Well there is a machine that does it have a look.
The processing manufacturing side.
If we are to manufacture useful products from recycled materials apart from having access to a consistent low cost materials the manufacturer requires a consistent demand for the products they make and they have to sell those products at a competitive price. They also have to provide a competitive rate of return to the people who invest their money into the ventures.
The consistent raw materials side of the equation can be solved.
The way to solve the demand side of the equation can be solved with the cooperation of local and state governments both of which utilise a large number of products of which some can be manufactured from recycled materials. The processor, manufacturer of these products needs to be guaranteed a minimum yearly quantity to be able to calculate the investment required and the cost for the products. Whether it is a park bench a bollard, material used in road building or any other use. Once the demand side of the equation is established which will require research and development the important work begins.
A Plan to create a viable recycling industry will require the establishment of a processing/manufacturing facility. These facilities will require a tax free shelter, “A green field shelter for a fixed period in order to attract the investment. Without this shelter the risks and the returns to the investors will be minimal and the processing plants will never come to fruition.
We as a nation have to ask ourselves is it better to continue to fill our land with waste and have our people sitting down doing nothing while we continue to purchase new products from overseas or do we bite the bullet, convert our waste into useful items that will employ local people, provide a reasonable return on investment, make our environment a much cleaner place to live in by developing a plan to create a viable recycling industry..
There is a cost benefit to reducing the tax burden as all wages and other money flows back into the economy, there will overtime be a reduced reliance on social welfare, we will not be wasting money and land on landfill sites and we will provide employment for our local people which will reduce our crime rates and boost the well being of the people who live in our communities.