To the Editor:

We have come a long way since trash was burned in a barrel in the backyard, and the only recycling products at home were mason jars and shoe boxes. The recycling industry now thrives, and technology has turned much human waste into products that have a new and useful life.

When we first moved to Sanford, about twenty years ago, glass products were collected at the recycling centers, usually separated into the various colors. Recently, we were notified that glass is no longer collected and must be combined with non-recyclable materials, commonly called “kitchen garbage.” I asked the attendant about this change. He replied that it is not “cost effective.” That answer did not satisfy me since I believe that sound environmental policies do not always have to be cost effective. I discovered that glass is recycled widely throughout the state and the country, including Richmond, Virginia, where our younger son lives.

Too much trash is now deposited in landfills, and glass does not have to be added to this growing mountain of human waste that pollutes and disfigures the landscape. Consider all the foods, beverages, and household products that are sold in glass containers. Wines, spirits, and many beers alone, would account for a huge number of these glass containers. They do not need to be buried in the earth, where they will remain for a thousand years.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the wide use of non-recyclable materials used in packing products for shipment. If private industry cannot address this problem, governmental agencies can offer incentives and penalties that will encourage the development of cost effective technologies for preventing further damage to the planet.

Thomas K. Spence, Jr.