Recycling is considered one of the best thing you can do for the environment, because it entails collection our trash, properly disposing of it and later recycling this waste in their proper recycling plants, instead of just throwing out all of your waste, in which case it all is sent to one of many landfills to rot there for hundreds of years. But to those that are working in these recycling plants or in other areas of recycling industry, this process can actually be dangerous, which unfortunately means that there is a dark side to recycling.
Recycling industry is one of the industries that is notorious for having awful working conditions. Weather it is plastic, paper, glass or metal recycling, material collection or any other aspect of recycling, people who are doing these jobs do not enjoy great work conditions or good pay. Not only that, but some of the jobs that people who work in the recycling industry do, are very dangerous, too. We always hear about how good it is to recycle, but we rarely think of what it is actually like to work in the recycling industry.
The sad thing is that recycling industry is not small. This industry employs around million people in the U.S. alone, and although there is a lot of money in recycling industry, because places like scrap yards and recycling plants generate a lot of revenue, most employers don’t use that revenue to better the conditions of their employees. In fact the fatality rate scrap yard workers, for example, is nine times higher than those who work in manufacturing, that also is considered as quite dangerous industry. Similar situation is in recycling collector’s field and other areas of recycling industry. So why are the working conditions so bad in this industry?
Many thinks that it is solely because the work these people are doing is dirty, labor-intensive and often involves working with heavy and dangerous machinery that is lacking safety features. But this is only a part of the overall problem. The other part of it is that this industry requires a lot of manual labor that is willing to do these dirty jobs. In recycling not a lot of tasks can be systemized, because the materials that goes to these recycling plants come in all shapes and sizes. But not a lot of people are willing to work in recycling, so these dirty recycling jobs are mostly occupied by people, who are not able to find anything better – immigrants, temporary workers, convicts and such. And that creates a whole other issue – work force that is afraid to ask for better working conditions and safety precautions when working with heavy machinery. But does the fact that many workers in recycling industry are “the low end of the economy” justifies that they don’t need civil work conditions?
No it doesn’t, which is why it is important to bring awareness to the dark side of recycling and to try to combat these injustices against recycling industry workers, so recycling stops being the industry that only looks good on the paper and starts being the good-for-everyone industry that everyone claims it to be.