The recycling of municipal solid waste is widely seen as an environmentally preferable alternative to the prevailing practices of incineration and of dumping in landfills. Recycling is profitable, as the recycling programs already in operation demonstrate. A state legislator proposes that communities should therefore be required to adopt recycling and to reach the target of recycling 50 percent of all solid waste within 5 years.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously calls into question the advisability of implementing the proposal?

Existing recycling programs have been voluntary, with citizen participation ranging from 30 percent in some communities to 80 percent in others.

Existing recycling programs have been restricted to that 20 percent of solid waste that, when reprocessed, can match processed raw materials in quality and price.

Existing recycling programs have had recurrent difficulties finding purchasers for their materials, usually because of quantities too small to permit cost-effective pickup and transportation.

Some of the materials that can be recycled are the very materials that, when incinerated, produce the least pollution.

Many of the materials that cannot be recycled are also difficult to incinerate.


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