Magazine article Management Review

It Isn't Easy Being Green

Magazine article Management Review

It Isn't Easy Being Green

Article excerpt

The Fresh Kills landfill in New York City, when completed, will be the largest manmade object on earth. It will dwarf the ancient pyramids and contain more volume than the Great Wall of China. Meanwhile, this 21st century Wonder of the World exudes 2 million gallons of toxic leachate daily and the city recently agreed to pay $500 million to help clean it up.

Where else can New York City put the 800,000 tons of garbage it produces each month? We've already tried exporting and burial at sea; neither system wins friends or civic pride. The fact is, we have three choices:

Landfill. It's the final resting place for 80 percent of our throwaways. Landfill should more correctly be termed a "storage" system, however; contrary to popular opinion, nothing biode-grades in a landfill. Newspapers have been unearthed in readable condition after 20 years' burial. Maybe that's why we're rapidly running out of room for more landfills.

Incineration. This does not really dispose of garbage either, but it does cut down on the mess. America bums 10 percent of its garbage, but there's a downside-otherwise benign materials, at high temperature, are chemically broken down into toxins.

Recycling. This has been called the most "natural" form of waste disposal. It is also accomplished at the greatest expense. We currently recycle 10 to 11 percent of our trash.

If you're a typical consumer, you think recycling is a worthy endeavor, but no real solution to America's environmental problems. …

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