Insufficient recycling of materials

Visualization of narrower problems
Underutilization of waste
Inadequate waste recovery
Excessive final disposal of waste
Of UK's 18 million tons of domestic waste each year, less than 10% is recycled -- even though 94% believe recycling is important. A British family of four throws out an average of a tonne of domestic waste a year.

Despite nearly 30 years of active recycling in the USA, 96 percent of plastic still goes into landfills. Two-thirds of waste paper still gets thrown away, and Mexico actually recycles more glass per capita than the U.S. does.

1. The more waste that is recycled the greater become the problems of sorting it and finding uses for the materials produced from it: collection and sorting become progressively more difficult and costly; plastics cannot be mixed; the bulk of paper, plastic and card is used for food packaging and there are hygienic complications; plastic translucence is lost and colours muddied; the technology does not exist to deal with many materials; recycling is not always environmentally friendly; and the resultant raw material must be used or is itself a waste. Therefore, you get to a point where having recycled as much as is ecologically and practically desirable, burning and landfill might be the best solution for what is left.

2. In India, concern for resources is a matter of survival for thousands who make their living from recycling and the complex economy which has grown up around it. This includes industrial recycling plants, the recycling shops that supply them and the "rag-pickers", the street children who spend their days collecting other people's rubbish for the recycling shops. Paper, plastics, glass and textiles are re-processed leaving virtually no "real" rubbish.

(D) Detailed problems