by: Leslie Jones

We’ve all heard of recycling in one context or another, but not many of us really know what spurred on this environment saver.  On March 22, 1987, “it started when the Long Island town of Islip, overcome by its own refuse, shipped 3,168 tons of it down the Atlantic coast, with a plan to dump it in some farmers’ backyards. But North Carolina turned the barge away, as did Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Florida; Mexico and Belize sent out their militaries to keep the barge offshore. The barge returned and spent the summer stinking up New York Harbor.... Six months after its sorry tale began, the barge finally unloaded at a Brooklyn incinerator. The story turns uplifting only after it ends: the incessant news coverage helped inspire Americans to pay more attention to their trash, ushering in the recycling era.”*  

Exporting Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) was not unusual for New York so, for the most part, no one really noticed.  This trip, however, proved to be very different.  Months after it set sail, and after covering about 6,000 miles, the infamous “Garbage Barge” returned to the harbor it started from.

After the frenzy died down, the impact this fiasco had on the United States was very profound. “Within three years, most states passed laws requiring some kind of municipal recycling. The United States went from about 600 cities with curbside recycling programs to almost 10,000. Our recycling rate is three times higher now than it was in 1987.  And yet, in spite of all of these laws and programs, we still haven't solved the fundamental problem of recycling. We know how to collect recyclables from single-family housing. We know how to process recyclables for end markets. But we haven't solved the value problem.”**  In our “need-it-now, get-it-now” instant gratification society, we sometimes fail to look ahead and plan for something that doesn’t seem to impact us now.....or does it?

We definitely love low prices at the checkout, we love seeing “Made in the USA” labels on products we buy, and we most certainly are grateful for the jobs created by recycling centers around the United States.  These are among several benefits we enjoy now from recycling now.  This definitely spells value to me.

“Since there is no national law that mandates recycling, state and local governments often introduce recycling requirements. A number of U.S. states, including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, and Vermont have passed laws that establish deposits or refund values on beverage containers while other jurisdictions rely on recycling goals or landfill bans of recyclable materials. Some cities, such as New York City and Seattle, have created laws that enforce fines upon citizens who throw away certain recyclable materials. There are also voluntary programs and educational programs to increase recycling where it is not mandated by law.”***

We have, however, had to endure at least one drawback of the recycling era.  Higher prices for MSW collection.  Reminiscent of the higher prices of stamps after electronic communication took over?  You bet it is.  The garbage companies are going to make money. So, as they lose the revenue from having smaller amounts of trash, they pass on the loss to its customers.....unless you are a customer of a trash company who has their own recycling facility. And, as luck would have it, that’s exactly who we are!

Borden Waste-Away Is a local, family owned waste hauling company that has been serving the Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan area for over 70 years.  We have an in-house state-of-the-art recycling facility providing Single Stream recycling. With this incredibly convenient process,  the vast majority of what is brought to us is sent to the world market for reuse.  We are thrilled that you recycle...even if your waste stream is very low because of it.  In fact, we encourage it!