Future of Johnson County recycling program to be determined

By Stephanie Lingenfelter
Editor in Chief

Fifty-five percent of the 251 million tons of trash ends up in landfills, while 32.5 percent is recycled, according to earth911.com. Recycling is important to the earth’s health, but recently, according to The Daily Journal, Johnson County has ended the recycling program. Alternatives to recycling will still be available.

Executive Director of Johnson County Recycling District Jessie Biggerman explained their office could no longer support the recycling program.

“Costs increased beyond our budget limit, illegal dumping of non-recyclable materials and an increase in population in White River that had made the Emmanuel site unmanageable for our small office,” Biggerman said.

Recycling is important in conserving natural resources because it’s using materials more than once. According to recyclingawarenessideas.com, making one ton of paper from recycled stock saves about 17 trees and uses 50 percent less water to make.

“Many of our natural resources are limited and most ‘virgin’ materials are derived from natural resources. If we always make new materials, rather than reusing them, we will deplete those resources that don’t regenerate and increase the amount of waste being sent to landfills,” Biggerman said.

Senior Liz Roseman believes recycling is needed to reduce waste. By recycling, the trash will be used in the creation of new items.

“We as humans already create too much waste and so the more that can be reused in any way, the better,” Roseman said.

Even though the recycling program has ended, electronics can still be recycled through the Recycling District and many areas have recycling as part of their paid curb side trash pickup. Libraries and schools also offer areas for paper recycling. Anyone that doesn’t have curb side service doesn’t have a place to take recycling unless they want to drive to a different county recycling district. The closest drop off is the Indy Recycling Drop-Off, which is about 30 minutes away. A full list of recyclable materials, such as milk jugs and cereal boxes, can be found at jcrd.org or the bottom of most items will have the recycling symbol with a number in the middle. All recycling centers accept certain numbers, so it can easily be checked where items can be taken.

According to National Geographic, 91 percent of plastic isn’t recycled. That plastic then ends up in the ocean and causes harm to marine life. They either get entangled and trapped in the trash or digest the waste. According to conserveturtles.org, over 100 million marine animals die yearly from plastic debris in the ocean. Another million seabirds are killed by plastic and there’s an estimated 100 million tons of plastic throughout the oceans. One of the easiest ways to make those numbers go down is to eliminate as much throwaway plastic as possible. Throwaway plastic refers to things like 24-pack cases of water, grocery sacks and straws. Reusable versions of all three of those examples exist and are much healthier for the environment and humans in general because of micro-toxins that can be released when thin plastics are heated.

The WCHS robotics team, Wired Warriors, has decided to make recycling one of their focuses this season. Senior Co-Captain Rachel Hartman revealed the greatest way the team is encouraging recycling is through the promotion of reusable water bottles.

“Recycle your plastic bottles instead of throwing them away and if possible, buy a reusable one so that you do not have to constantly recycle plastic bottles to keep water with you all the time. We are going to encourage our students to recycle at home and to buy their own reusable water bottles, so we do not have to haul cases of bottled water to competitions,” Hartman said.

They chose this as their focus because of the multitude of water bottles left at competitions.

“Every time we go to competitions, we haul several cases of water bottles there and they end up being thrown away or left somewhere for someone else to pick up. We wanted to eliminate this mess to the schools that host the competitions and in the world’s landfills,” Hartman said.

The Johnson County Recycling District is currently looking into having staffed drop off sites starting in 2019 to provide more local options. Recycling is necessary to ensure the health of the planet and as Hartman said, “We have one earth and we need to take care of it.”

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