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Thomas Premo

Premo 1

Mr. Rogers
Government
22 October, 2015

Mock Congress Research Paper: Climate Change

Climate change can be described as a cyclical warming and cooling of the earth that is
usually attributed to small variations in the earths orbit that change the amount of solar energy
that our planet receives. Climate change is evidenced by shrinking ice sheets, rising sea levels,
and warming oceans which are already having devastating effects on marine life. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated that" scientific evidence for warming of
the climate system is unequivocal " (IPCC). Climate change is a very real threat that must be
acknowledged and dealt with. While climate change is a natural cycle of the earth, 97% of
climate scientists agree about climate warming trends over the last century are very likely due to
human activity(NASA). Humankind is dramatically affecting the earths systems and producing
greenhouse gases that warm the planet. The National Recycling and Composting Mandate of
2016 is a legislation that makes composting and recycling mandatory in the US. The Ordinance
would reduce the amount of waste in our landfills which harms the environment and contributes
to climate change. Several cities in the US such a Seattle and all countries in the European Union
have already enacted mandatory recycling and composting laws and have seen a decrease in the
cost of waste removal and energy consumption. The ordinance also takes advantage of natural
gas generated by landfills from the collection and compost of food scraps, a viable energy

source while recycling cuts down on the manufacturing of new material saving energy, money,
and resources.

Heat-trapping greenhouse gases are produced as a byproduct by humankind and pollute


the atmosphere causing the earth to warm, but where do they come from? Landfills are the third
largest source for methane gas, a greenhouse gas over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide
in the US. Environmental Protection Agency says that landfill gases are a byproduct of the
decomposition of organic material in landfills, and are composed of roughly 50% methane, 50%
CO2, and a small amount of other organic compounds(EPA). Landfill gases will be cut down
by the ordinance which will improve the condition of our atmosphere. The manufacture,
distribution, and use of goods and food we rely on in our daily lives, as well as the management
of the resulting waste, requires energy. Energy mostly comes from fossil fuels, the largest global
source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The EPA states that approximately 42% of US
greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the energy used to produce, process, transfer, and
dispose of the food we eat in the goods we use (EPA). The Ordinance works to limit the amount
of compostables that end up in landfills and recycling saves energy as manufacturing goods
from recycled materials requires less energy than creating new ones. By recycling and
composting waste, the US can limit its ecological footprint and decrease both the amount of
harmful greenhouse gases produced from landfills and the energy and resources used to produce
goods. But would such an ordinance, when put in effect, really have an impact?

In 1990, the European Union passed a mandatory recycling and composting law and
while one still has yet to be passed in the US, several local ones have been enacted in cities like
San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City. In September 2014, Seattle passed an ordinance

prohibiting food scraps from residential and commercial garbage. Each year Seattle sends
approximately 100,000 tons of food waste 300 miles to landfill in eastern Oregon. This results in
higher costs and greenhouse gas emissions. With the ordinance The Seattle Public Utilities
Council expects that 38,000 tons of this waste will be diverted and sent to composting
processors. Seattle previously banned yard waste from trash in 1988 and recyclables into 2005.
According to Sally Bagshaw, a Seattle Public Utilities council member, this has had a noticeable
affect on seattles diversion rates From 2003 to 2013, the amount of compostable and
recyclable material that Seattle has diverted from the landfill each year has increased from 38.2%
to 56.2%(Bagshaw). Ordinances like this would have a direct effect on nationwide diversion
rates, saving money and energy. In 2007, Seattle passed another legislation following to zero a
strategy to improve recycling and waste production rates. Seattles recycling rate continues to
increase up to 0.3%'s and prevents upwards of 200 shipping containers from heading to the
landfill each year(Seattle City Council). One can see that such ordinances continue to improve
over time. When considering the effects of a national ordinance, one must only look at the
success of local Recycling and Composting Acts

Recycling and composting saves energy. Bio-methane is a form of refined biogas


collected from landfills and can be used to generate electricity and heat. The US department of
energy found that biomethane or renewable gas (RNG) can be used in natural gas vehicles as it is
interchangeable with natural gas (DOE). This shows some of the possible uses that biomethane
has. The collection and use of RNG and biomethane can eventually even replace fossil fuels as a
source of energy. Recycling centers save energy as well. By reusing recyclable products like
aluminum, paper, glass, plastic, and other materials, we can save on energy and production costs,
and reduce the negative impacts that the extraction and processing of new materials has on the

environment. Stanford states that last year alone, recycling bottles and cans enough energy to
power 522, 000 Homes (Stanford). Seattle economist Jeffrey Morris also stated manufacturing
1 ton of office paper with recycle paper stock can save nearly 3000 kilowatt hours over the same
ton of paper made with virgin wood products. This shows us shows how much energy the US
will be able to save with national recycling and compost collection ordinances.

Critics of recycling and compost programs often point out the cost of such programs. It
is cheaper to send waste to the landfill than to develop and enforce programs to reuse and
compost waste. Some also say that recycling programs have had little effect on waste output and
do little to limit the amount of waste in landfills. However they are wrong for several reasons.
While a recycling and composting ordinance would cost money, the benefits will outweigh the
cost and the ordinance actually saves money by limiting waste bills, creating jobs, and
reciprocating investments. For example California hosts 4,342 recycling and reuse
establishments that employ over 84,000 people, generate an annual payroll of 2.25 billion and
gross 14.2 billion in annual revenues in California every year, for every job in recycling
collection, there are eight jobs created through manufacturing the recovered material into a new
product (Stanford). Investments in recycling program bring substantial returns by creating jobs
and helping to support infrastructure. Furthermore, landfills are inefficient use of resources and
contribute to climate change through the release of landfill gases into the atmosphere and
pollution of groundwater and waterways. The long-term financial cost of remediating pollution
caused by landfill waste are often not considered( BYU Idaho). In order to fully evaluate the
effectiveness and cost benefits of such an ordinance, one must look at the long-term effects we
have on the environment.

In conclusion, a National Recycling and Composting Ordinance is necessary in the US


because, it reduces environmental damage caused by landfills in the form of landfill gases such
as methane and the creation of new materials uses fossil fuels while reusing them saves energy
and money. Similar ordinances have seen success in cities like Seattle where money is saved and
their effectiveness continues. and the collection and compost of food scraps can create renewable
natural gas which can be used as an energy source while recycling saves energy in the
manufacturing process. This bill seeks to limit our effects on the earths systems and establishes
a standard for sustainable living. In order to preserve the earth and fight Climate Change, such
changes to the way our society lives are necessary.

Works Cited

Bagshaw, Sally. Seattle Composting. Seattle Public Utilities. Web. October 18, 2015.
Commercial Recycling. Seattle City Council. Web. October 22, 2015.
Frequently Asked Questions: Benefits of Recycling. Stanford. Web. October 22, 2015.
Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet. NASA. Web. October 20, 2015.
Learn About Waste. EPA. Web. October 21, 2015.
Recycling Statistics. BYU Idaho. Web. October 20, 2015.
Renewable Natural Gas (Biomethane) Production. US Department of Energy. Web. October
20, 2015.

2012 Recycle Rate. Seattle Public Utilities. Web. September 12, 2013. October 20, 2015.

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