English Lesson: Recycle is a verb

Recycling is the present continuous form of the verb "to recycle".  Scrap and commodity are nouns.

"Recycled" can be either a modifier or a past participle of the verb "to recycle".  "Recycled content" (modifier) means that something made of steel is remelted and molded into something new made of steel.

Steel is rarely discarded or diverted from a landfill... But by virtue of the fact it has been remelted, it now has a "recycled content" label attached as a modifier.  "I recycled the steel" means it's still a verb if the subject doing the recycling is in the sentence, but in passive voice - "the steel was recycled", it becomes "recycled content steel".  Maybe I'm 6th generation steel recycler, and I've never even heard of someone throwing steel away in an incinerators or landfills.  If they did I'd pay for it out of the ash, it's always been a commodity to me as a recycler.  But even if I never pulled it from the ash or landfill, even if I came to your house and bought it, I've become part of a "waste management hierarchy".   How come my job is being redefined as "waste management" based on someone else stupidly throwing steel away?

Here's the slippery slope which lead secondary materials into a different category from mined ore, via lingo from the point of view of rich people, applied to poor people, who are assumed to be victims.

The verb "recycle" has been applied generally to all steps in the lifecycle which lead to "recycled content".  "If you don't buy recycled, you aren't really recycling" was a catch phrase after 1990 Earth Day "glutted" the market (price of recyclables fell due to increased supply from collections).

When I put the paper in a blue box next to my desk, I'm "recycling" (verb), when the janitor takes it and pulls out contaminants (an orange peel in the paper bin), he is "recycling".   When the "waste paper" company comes in a truck, they are recycling.   When the carter grades the fiber and puts the scrap paper into a baler, it's "recycling".  When the paper mill puts the bales into a hot hydropulper to bleach and produce a substitute for cellulose wood pulp, the mill is recycling.  When the pulp goes through the different procedures (pulping, drying, screening, pressing, etc.) it is "recycling" the paper. Selling the reused product, e.g. Tissue paper, is recycling.   (If I use the recycled tissue in the bathroom....?)

By virtue of what didn't happen to the paper or steel (it didn't get thrown away in a landfill, i.e. was not discarded), it now captures millions of people doing what they have always done and makes them recyclers.   The more valuable the scrap (gold is almost never thrown in the landfill), the higher the recycling rate, and the more people in the jewelry business become "recyclers".  Do we really need these people to be regulated as a waste disposal process?

A TV repairperson in Brazil is doing the same thing they were doing ten years ago.  When they find that rich countries throw out nicer TVs, they would be foolish to spend time on heavily worn Brazilia TVs if a very simple repair to a newer TV is higher added value (retained value).   But now they, too, have been labelled a "recycler" because a rich person in another country has invented a brand new action - discarding a working TV - and then attached a "discarded" onus to it.  "Muito Obrigado."

The rich person, by throwing a cell phone in a garbage can in Wellesley, MA, has redefined the job titles of technicians in India, China, Indonesia, Peru, Mexico, Ghana, Senegal, etc.   Because the rich might have discarded the cell phone, the reuse of the cell phones - even if they resold it on ebay and never discarded it - gets labelled "waste management".

When I donate surplus canned food to a soup kitchen, I guess I have now "discarded" the can to the shelter (since someone else might have thrown the same can away).  This creates a liability for me over the children eating at the soup kitchen.  I cannot expose my company to that.   So should I have the cans of food shredded, and call myself a steward?


No comments: