Energy: Psychological Perspectives

By Andrew N. Baum; Jerome E. Singer | Go to book overview

5
Waste Reduction and Resource Recovery: Strategies for Energy Conservation

E. Scott Geller Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

"Trash, " once put in a can on the curb and forgotten, can no longer be ignored. Solid waste management is now one of the major problems faced by cities and counties throughout the country. As energy costs rise, resources diminish, and land disposal areas become scarce, we must develop economic and environmentally sound approaches for dealing with our municipal solid waste stream.

-- Community Environmental Council, Inc.

Waste reduction and resource recovery are distinct, waste management approaches for conserving environmental resources and alleviating energy short- ages. Waste reduction refers to decreasing the generation of waste by reducing the consumption of environmental resources, whereas resource recovery refers to the extraction of resources from discarded materials for use in manufacturing consumer commodities (cf. Humbler, 1975). More detailed definitions of resource recovery programs (e.g., League of Women Voters of the U.S., 1972) distinguish between using wastes to produce the original product (i.e., recycling) and changing wastes into other materials (i.e., reclamation or conversion). Thus, using waste paper to produce paper, crushed glass to make glass, or scrap iron to produce steel is recycling in this narrower sense; whereas burning garbage to generate energy (e.g., refuse-derived fuel) or using crushed glass for road building would be termed reclamation or conversion. A third term that is sometimes associated with recycling (e.g., League of Women Voters of the U.S., 1972) but more often referred to as waste reduction (e.g., Wahl & Allison, 1975) is reuse. Reuse occurs when a product is used over again, usually by another person and sometimes in refurbished form, such as a returnable bottle, a retreaded tire, a dress from Goodwill Industries, or a car radiator from the junkyard. The present

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