October 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm #180385
Conor Cusack, MPAParticipant
There are now over 100 recyclable materials in industries including automobiles, electronics, yard-waste, glass, household products, and metals. Materials that otherwise would be discarded into landfills.
Although I am a big fan, I am by no means an expert on recycling. ”Recycling is a process to change materials (waste) into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions as compared to plastic production. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy.”
A review of the above convinces me that recycling is a worthwhile effort — and one that helps protect the environment via reduction waste and harmful pollution. Words that come to mind when I think about recycling are sustainability, environmental protection, and investment in our future. Investment for our future? Absolutely. When I regularly fill four containers with recyclables each week (insert admission of guilt: I started recycling with one bin and rarely filled it), I am hopeful that future generations will reap the benefits.
Recycling helps the environment? Check. Will there be a continuous stream of consumables to recycle for generations to come? With one hundred materials and counting, I’ll bet on it. Is recycling more impactful with more people and communities contributing? No doubt.
Here comes the kicker. Why aren’t we recycling illegally seized funding and property and reinvesting it into schools, neighborhoods, and job creation?
Under current state and federal legislation, approximately 80 percent of Assets Forfeiture funding confiscated via illegal narcotics traffic and other criminal enterprise is diverted back to law enforcement. I completely understand and appreciate the necessity for law enforcement personnel to be equipped with the requisite equipment and technology to disrupt and reduce crime, but consider if even a minute percentage of the aforementioned funds were allocated for early childhood education, parenting classes, recreation, prevention, and afterschool programming. Imagine if local businesses and corporations matched illegal forfeiture dollars that were being reinvested to support and grow infrastructure and vital programming for families.
I deem it safe to say that our country, our states, and our neighborhoods can anticipate a continued pipeline of illegal funding and property seizure. The narcotics traffic, illegal weapons and prostitution that plague so many communities is bound to continue.
In these trying economic times, I am no means advocating that governments broadly or blindly throw funding at concepts such as reinvesting seized illegal assets into neighborhoods without requisite oversight, measurement, and shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation and collaboration between and among government and corporate stakeholders. If these aren’t place, I would recommend not pursuing the idea.
Conversely, if the aforementioned parameters are in place and those same stakeholders can examine and champion this from a procedural, not political standpoint, local and state Assets Forfeiture Statutes could be amended so an increased percentage of those assets be recycled and reinvested in communities. If I had my druthers I would name such proposed legislation as “The Current-see Communities Reinvestment Act” or something to that effect (I’ll leave the formal title to the politicians). Pilot it in a community or two and measure it over a predetermined amount of time. See if businesses respond or not with contributing matching funds. If they do, publicly acknowledge them. Have participating communities benchmark one another to see if what they are creating is worthwhile and making a difference. Interview residents and conduct focus groups with the programs being implemented.
Call the idea absurd, but if a block, neighborhood, or town pulled this off and had something to show for it over time I would be very impressed.
Like my belief that recycling consumables will benefit generations to come, I continue to believe that recycling resources from the never-ending supply of criminal activity could benefit those who need them the most. It has been said that money is the root of all evil. However, if we carefully reinvest evil money wisely and precisely, we just may disprove that adage.
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