To recap my topic, I am focusing on making recycling more efficient in small, rural communities who do not have quite as large of a budget to work with as many other places. Mecklenburg County’s recycling program has not changed or improved much over the past years since its implementation. The only means of recycling offered to the citizens are eight drop-off locations scattered around the county, most of which only accept newspaper, cardboard, and aluminum.
There are several key stakeholders in this situation. The first and most obvious are the citizens of Mecklenburg County. Currently, it is extremely inconvenient for people to recycle, and even when they can, much of their trash still goes to the dump regardless because of the small amount of acceptable material. These residents have a vested interested due to the fact that they would be able to help their community and environment without having to go out of their way to do so. This brings me to another key stakeholder in the issue: the environment. Now it’s obvious that plants and animals are not able to voice their opinions on the subject; however, if they could, I feel that it is safe to assume that they would be for a more efficient recycling program. They wildlife would be able to reproduce and grow in a cleaner environment. The final major stakeholder would be the local government within Mecklenburg County. Whereas the citizens and environment would be for the recycling program, the local government would be more opposed. Most of the opposition would come from a monetary aspect. The main argument against implementing a more efficient system would be that the financial investment would outweigh the actually benefits of recycling.
Aside from these three main stakeholders, there are several secondary stakeholders as well; for example, the local governments of other small, rural communities. If a more efficient recycling program was placed in effect in Mecklenburg County and was successful, areas with similar populations and budgets would have a model to go by. Along with the local governments, the citizens of those communities would also have a vested interested. They would be able to influence their officials to follow the example set by Mecklenburg County and be able to partake in the practice of conserving the environment by means of recycling. Other stakeholders would be agencies, groups, and non-profit organizations that focus on recycling and benefitting the environment in general. These groups would be for the implementation of this program because it could eventually lead to other communities doing the same. In fact, with the proper information and proposal, these groups may be interested in donating money to assist with startup costs. If that were to happen, it would be a crucial victory in gaining the local government’s support on the issue.
As for my critical source, I stumbled upon a document created by several groups of students at universities in Mexico. The opening statement in the abstract describes my roadblock with finding examples perfectly: “Globally there is a lack of knowledge about waste generation and composition in rural areas because these types of studies have been conducted mainly in big cities” (Sara). This document was a report of a study conducted by these individuals in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. The students begin by describing the area of their study, which seems to be roughly about the size of my focus area from what I can gather. They then go on to describe the method being used in the area, which is verbatim to the process utilized in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. The part that was the most useful to me throughout the material presented was their breakdown of waste composition. They concluded that organic materials (food residuals, wood, paper and cardboard, leather, etc.) accounted for 56% of the waste, non-organic materials (aluminum, glass, batteries, ferrous materials, etc.) accounted for 33% of the waste, and the remaining 11% was credited to a miscellaneous category. They then noted that roughly 1/3 of the weight were materials that could easily be recycled (paper and cardboard, plastic, aluminum, and wood). This proves that a considerable amount of waste taken to landfills could be easily recycled with the correct process.
Sara Ojeda-Benitez, et al. “Household solid waste characteristics and management in rural communities.” Open Waste Management Journal (2010): 167-173. Environment Complete. Web. 25 Sept. 2013.