Recycling in America
Once the hobby of a small number of environmentalists, recycling is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Here is a look at how changing economic times are affecting four states' efforts to deal with waste.
Every year, only 18-percent of all American electronic waste is recycled, according to the EPA. Hoping to cut down on the growing mountain of high-tech trash, two dozen states have passed laws that require the electronics industry to pay to set up recycling programs. But navigating this patchwork of legislation has been a challenge.
Companies like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Heinz ketchup have determined that plastic made from plants — not oil — makes sense both for the environment and for business. The growing demand has meant a boom in the bioplastic industry. Could this mean the end of the plastic bottle as we know it?
Until very recently Philadelphians recycled a dismal five-percent of their trash. But all that began to change a few years ago when the city stepped up its mandatory recycling program and cracked down on violators.
Here's one silver lining to a slow economy: High recycling rates. Americans are wasting far less, and recycling far more. Nowhere is the trend as strong as in California. As Amy Standen reports, this change is sending ripple effects throughout the economy.