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We do not recycle waste. It’s a common misuse of semantics to say that waste is, can be, or should be recycled. Resource materials are recycled, but waste is never recycled. That’s why it’s called “waste.” Waste is any material with no inherent value that is discarded and has no further use. We humans have been so wasteful for so long that the concept of waste elimination is new to us. Yet, it is an important concept that must become imbued into human consciousness.

When a potato is peeled, the peels aren’t kitchen waste — they’re still potato peels. When they’re collected for recycling as a resource, no waste is produced. Those of you who separate your organic material for recycling are creating no organic waste — a small but highly satisfying achievement.

Many people, especially compost, municipal, and academic professionals, nevertheless adamantly insist upon referring to these recycled materials as “waste.” This is called the “waste mentality.” Many of the people who are developing municipal composting programs came from the waste management field, a field in which refuse has always been waste. Today, however, refuse is increasingly becoming recognized as the resource it always was. Those of us who recycle are eliminating waste, and the term “waste” should not be associated with us. The use of the term “waste” to describe recycled materials is an unpleasant semantic habit that must be abandoned. If we’re eliminating waste, we should talk like it, and be proud of it

Publication Details

  • Published: 1999
  • ISBN-10: 0-9644258-9-0