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Energy and Environment
Stories focused on energy & environment topics throughout the state of Kansas.

Recycling: Is It Really Necessary?

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The Wichita City Council adopted a new solid waste and recycling plan in November 2012 that requires all trash haulers to offer recycling services for items such as paper, plastic and aluminum.

In an effort to increase recycling, a new video has been released by WIRE, Wichita Initiative To Renew the Environment.

The two-minute animated video was created to encourage citizens to take advantage of recycling opportunities that are now available and address issues about recycling:


Bob Weeks, blogger for Voice For Liberty in Wichita, has written articles about recycling where he spells out some of his concerns.

Weeks says that in proper context, recycling can be profitable.

He says 75 percent of automobiles are recycled and used cardboard is often recycled in commercial settings. But Weeks says recycling in a household setting is different.

“Well, it takes a lot of time and effort to recycle,“ says Weeks.

Weeks takes issue with the video illustrating rinsing out bottles before recycling. He says that takes time and might not be the wisest use of natural resources at a time the city of Wichita is trying to get citizens to create ways to conserve water during the drought.

Weeks also questioned the economic benefits of household recycling.

“…and the fact that we have to pay people to take these recyclables away," says Weeks. "That’s a big key right there. There’s really not much of an economic market for these types of things.”

Weeks says recycling should be done on a voluntary basis and opposes it being mandated in Wichita as it is in some Kansas cities.

“I am concerned that at some time in the future, the city is going to say OK people are used to voluntary recycling, let’s just flip the switch and make it mandatory recycling,” says Weeks.

Weeks says the idea of running out of landfill space is ironic because Kansas has so much land throughout the Midwest that some farmers are paid to not grow crops on, citing a study by A. Clark Wiseman, an economics professor at Gonzaga University.

“He calculated that all the waste that America would generate over the next thousand years would take a landfill 100 yards high and 35 miles square on each side. That is just about the dimensions of a county like Sedgwick County in Kansas," he says. "And I’m confident that in the next thousand years that we will probably come up with some magic technology that just vaporizes trash and we don’t have to worry about that.”

Weeks says when there’s an opportunity for people to make money recycling, such as automobiles, cardboard and gold, people should recycle.

“But when you have to persuade them to do something, then you have to look at the motivations of why these people want this to be done. Are the motivations real? Is there some sort of hidden agenda or do they just have the accurate facts at their command?”