Although recycling comes with high financial and energy costs, we should still strive to keep waste away from landfills. Many cities in the world are running out of landfill space, ex. San Francisco. Landfills contaminate soil, air, water. Plus waste store in landfills take a long time or may never decompose. Burning waste may save space, but produces a lot of harmful byproducts. Recycling also keep the streets clean.
This link contains a good mix of arguments for and against landfills, waste management in general: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/should-the-u-s-burn-or-bury-its-trash/
As majphan said, recycling is a good way to keep material out of landfills. However, we should keep in mind that reduce and reuse come before recycle in the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. We can reduce the quantity of resources we use by buying things with less packaging or without packaging in the first place. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be bought without packaging. We can also reuse items by washing them and refilling them. In Canada, beer bottles have been standardized so that they can be collected, sanitized, and refilled. Simply washing beer bottles with boiling water takes a lot less energy than melting them down completely.
So, reduce and reuse daily, then recycle everything else!
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