Wildflower, stripped granite rock and broken bottle in the desert.

Random Ramble about Recycling

I have a question. No clue whom to ask, so out into the WordPress world it goes.

This morning’s paper had a big story on how China, which is working hard toward becoming a what we used to call “first world”, isn’t wanting to take our trash any more, specifically the recycling we send over there for processing. They are concerned about the pollution from processing in their air and water.*

My question is this: what would it take to do the recycling here in the Pacific Northwest, cleanly?

I ask this because I realized that technology has been improved since the factories in China that pollute so badly were set up. It might be possible to set up clean factories today, designed and built to be so from the start.

Eastern Washington has sun and wind that can be harnessed for power, in addition to hydro (alas, Western Washington doesn’t have enough reliable sunshine to count on any solar). So does eastern Oregon, which is where a lot of our (Seattle area) landfill trash goes, and likely where the trash China rejects will wind up.

I realize that the idea isn’t sexy, but it sure seems like if we can pour vast amounts of money into building electric, self-driving cars and sending uber-rich people into space we could do something about our trash.

Second question: how does one go about finding the answer?

Here is what The Wiki has to say about recycling plastics.

*Ironically the US is rushing as fast as it can to reduce regulations in order to head back down to second or third world levels. This makes me sad. I have traveled in countries with unsafe air and water; the thing I love most when I get home (after my husband and the fluff-y family) is taking a deep breath of clean air.

5 thoughts on “Random Ramble about Recycling”

    1. The cell phone and computers are an egregious pollution problem. However, the story in today’s Times was specifically about changes to China allowing imports of plastics with recycle numbers 3 to 7 and reducing the allowable percentage of contamination in paper. It didn’t mention the computer/cell phone recycling issue.

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      1. I still have my nokia, though T mobile’s new tower wouldn’t work with it. I like it because it is so indestructible.

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      2. We also have cell phones that are a little long in the tooth, although I think my husband’s Nokia receiver may be going out.

        The smart phone industry seems a lot like gambling or drug addiction: people get anxious to get the latest and greatest so they can have the new-stuff-rush, where the new gadget doesn’t really do much, if any, more than the old one. And it certainly doesn’t do anything more that they need to do.

        National Geographic did an article about the devastating effects in Africa from the mining of the exotic metals for cellular devices and batteries. I saw it just after I bought my first smart phone (which would place it spring of 2015) and I vowed it would be my only one unless things change on that front. Between the mining and the “recycling” the smart phone reminds me a lot of nuclear power. The technology seems magical, but…are the effects on our one and only planet worth it? We always seem to ask that question too late.

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      3. And here I am thinking that my 7 year old laptop at home is awfully slow… I updated two computers at work because stupid ICD10 diagnosis codes needed more memory, while just making medicine that much more miserable. Sigh.

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