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To the Editor:I was hoping that you could run these comments about recycling in general in the Villanovan soon, especially as that we are in the middle of Recycle Mania. As you may or may not know, Villanova is in a contest with many other contests to recycle the most up until April 9th. It would be great if you could run an additional piece to boost awareness around campus and Villanova’s rank in the contest. For further information, please contact the campus recycling coordinator, Ric Laudenslager at (610)519-4466 or [email protected] a lot and here’s my op-ed piece:Re-evaluating the Costs of RecyclingBy Kaitlin DrummondFebruary 25, 2004

How can one conclude the cost of something when its benefits are immeasurable? According to analysis by the New York City Independent Budget Office released this month, it is more expensive to recycle metal, plastic, paper and glass than to simply send all of these materials along with the rest of the trash to landfills and incinerators. First of all, of course it costs money to sort out materials from a large amount of refuse and collect them at different times than to just dump it all into one spot. However, recycling is a profitable, self-sustainable business if conducted correctly between buyers and sellers and if supported by local communities. Perhaps even more striking about “Report Calls Recycling Costlier Than Dumping,” the article in the New York Times reporting the recent findings is that it identifies recycling as more costly than landfill and incinerator use, but fails to elaborate on a cost-benefit analysis of recycling. After all, how can one possibly compare the benefits of reduced use of landfills and incinerators, reduced energy demand, increased duration of fuel supplies, reduced water pollution, protected species, reduced habitat destruction, reduced mineral demand, saved energy, reduced air pollution, and reduced global warming to an estimated $35 million extra cost in 2002? After mentioning a few of the long-term contributions to a safe and clean environment for both current and future generations, it seems that no dollar amount could compare to the priceless gains.

To its credit, the article does acknowledge that New York is certainly not advocating discontinuation of a recycling program. However, any article focusing primarily on economic deficit does stand the chance of providing another excuse to not recycle. In the case that readers finish the article in its entirety, they discover that high recycling costs may largely be due to inefficient collection. The same amount of pay is given to sanitation workers who collect recyclables and to those that collect other refuse. However, fewer tons of recyclables are being collected on those shifts, therefore there turns out to be a computation of a higher average cost per ton. Along this line of logic, if people simply recycle more and do not become discouraged by its current economic requirements, recycling may reach its potential as a profitable business endeavor. Currently, the recycling industry employs about 1.1 million people in the U.S. and has $236 billion in annual sales, much larger than either the mining or waste management and disposal industries. With support on state, federal, and personal levels, recycling could help to boost the economy and satiate some of the need for jobs in today’s market.

As part of a developed country we especially have a responsibility to recycle the goods that we have created from the world’s natural resources. To put this responsibility in perspective, developed countries with 19% of the world’s population have about 85% of the world’s wealth and income, use about 88% of its natural resources, and generate about 75% of its pollution and waste. Developing countries, mostly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America constitute about 81% of the world’s population, have about 15% of the world’s wealth and income, use about 12% of the world’s natural resources, and produce about 25% of the world’s pollution and waste.

Villanova has an award-winning recycling program that in 1999 was about to recycle 23% of its annual waste. Currently the program’s goal is to reach 35% by 2005. Right now, students, faculty, and visitors have the opportunity to help Villanova’s recycling program attain that goal during the Recycle Mania contest. Villanova is in a nation-wide competition to have the top recycling program in the country. We are competing with 16 other universities including Harvard, Yale, University of Vermont, and Carnegie Mellon. Right now we are ranked third. Help do your part to bring Villanova up to #1 and to protect our environment by recycling your paper, plastics and aluminum cans in any residence or dining hall by April 9!