By Robert A. Vella
Way back in yesteryear, environmentally conscious people such as myself began calling for the recycling of our everyday waste. Back then, garbage dumps were piling up in gigantic putrefying mounds all across the nation. For a high school project, I filmed one of these sites with no narration and no audio. It was just a silent movie of an endless caravan of vehicles disposing refuse atop a growing heap while bulldozers tried to contain the mess and as hundreds of seagulls descended upon it for an easy meal. Apparently, my teacher was impressed. She gave me an A+.
Our collective voices began to have an impact. Within a few years, politicians started talking about recovering valuable waste products – including metals, plastics, glass, and paper – which could be recycled for productive purposes. Not long after that, recycling bins appeared next to the garbage bins of residential and commercial properties at an increasing rate. New technologies also came into being which helped reduce the garbage problem by accelerating the decomposition process and even to capture methane gas releases for fuel. It was one of those rare success stories where grassroots activism, government, and industry worked together for a common good.
Then, big business stepped into the picture and effed it all up.
Corporate interests looked at local and regional recycling and saw a money making opportunity. They began buying up smaller businesses and lobbied government agencies for exclusive contracts. Over time, they grew into a multi-billion dollar industry dominated by a few large companies like Waste Management, Inc. That’s when I started noticing changes in the way recycling was done.
At first, the changes were rather routine and minor. Recyclables had to be further sorted into separate receptacles. Then, only certain types of plastics and glass bottles could be recycled. Then, only certain types of paper and cardboard would be accepted. Every year, more restrictions were put in place. Just a few weeks ago, our apartment manager informed us residents that glass would no longer be recycled. The rationale they gave appeared to be a convenient excuse to conceal the real reason – whatever that was (but we can guess).
Several years ago, I learned that America’s waste was being shipped to China. Think about that for a moment, dear readers. Why would it be necessary to ship garbage thousands of miles to another country? Has the U.S. become so inept, so industrially denuded that it can’t even handle its own waste? I know, I know… it’s globalization, right? Well, I’m not buying it. Something is very wrong with this picture.
Oh, by the way, did you know that China doesn’t want our garbage anymore? This is how recycling died, my friends.
After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately.
But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash.
For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China — tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But last year, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper — magazines, office paper, junk mail — and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.
Most are choosing the latter.
In other news:
Democrats passed House Resolution 1 (H.R. 1) on Friday — a bill that could be the most sweeping anti-corruption measure passed by the House of Representatives in a generation — by a vote of 234 to 193. The bill focuses on voting rights, campaign finance, and government ethics. But it appears to have no chance in the Senate.
Sponsored by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Maryland, H.R. 1, or the “For the People Act,” is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that in its words seeks “to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants and for other purposes.”
The Washington Post called it “perhaps the most comprehensive political-reform proposal ever considered by our elected representatives.”
Sarah Isgur, a prominent conservative with ties to the Trump administration, was all set to become one of the cable network’s political editors, a job in which she would help direct coverage of the Democratic primaries and Trump’s reelection campaign.
But CNN and Isgur appear to have had a slight change of plans.
Isgur, until recently the chief spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, announced Friday on Twitter that she would still be joining CNN, but that she won’t be doing so as a political editor. She’ll be a political analyst only, offering commentary but having no direct role in coverage decisions.
WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Friday ruled that the Trump administration is responsible for migrant children separated even before it instituted a “zero tolerance” policy.
The ruling followed a report from the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General that found that “potentially thousands” of children were separated from their parents between June 2017 and May 2018, when the Trump administration began prosecuting under the zero tolerance policy all those crossing the border illegally and separating parents from their children in the process.
The plaintiffs in the case, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, had argued that these children should be included in the class action lawsuit so that they, like the 2,800 children separated under zero tolerance, could potentially be reunified with their parents.