Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Recycling Is Garbage

I read this article years ago, and it's one of my all time favorite pieces. Recycling is a complete and total waste of time. Here are some money quotes:

Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.

Regarding the packaging you throw away at a typical fast food restaurant:

A typical McDonald's discards less than two ounces of garbage for each customer served -- less than what's generated by a typical meal at home.

On municipal costs for merely collecting and recycling the waste:

Officials hoped to recover this extra cost by selling the material, but the market price of a ton has never been anywhere near $200. In fact, it has rarely risen as high as zero. Private recyclers usually demand a fee because their processing costs exceed the eventual sales price of the recycled materials. So the city, having already lost $200 collecting the ton of material, typically has to pay another $40 to get rid of it.

On a side topic, why using paper plates is much better for the environment:

Are reusable cups and plates better than disposables? A ceramic mug may seem a more virtuous choice than a cup made of polystyrene, the foam banned by ecologically conscious local governments. But it takes much more energy to manufacture the mug, and then each washing consumes more energy (not to mention water).

And finally, the riches that come from storing New York City's garbage (although I hope they've updated from laser disks):

Ten years ago, Charles City County had much in common with New York today. It had no money to fix its decrepit schools. Its economy was stagnant, its tax rate was among the state's highest and it was being ordered to shut down its old dump. Now, thanks to its new landfill, the county has lower taxes, better-paid teachers and splendid schools. The landfill's private operator, the Chambers Development Company, pays Charles City County fees totaling $3 million a year -- as much as the county takes in from all its property taxes. The landfill has created jobs, as have the new businesses that were attracted by the lower taxes and new schools. The 80-acre public-school campus has three buildings with central air conditioning and fiber-optic cabling. The library has 10,000 books, laser disks and CD-ROM's; every classroom in the elementary school has a telephone and a computer. The new auditorium has been used by visiting orchestras and dance companies, which previously had no place to perform in the county.

Reduce and Reuse? Yes. But Recycle? It's a net loss.

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At 10/01/2008 10:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I respect your right to spout off at the mouth...do your research! One article is not fact. It is blogs like yours that propigate misinformation and lunacy.

Check the EPA's life cycle analysis on recylables. All recylable materials generate a net reduction in energy over virgin materials. And washing durable goods ALWAYS reduces energy use over the consumption of disposables.

Thank you for your opinion, but your readers should not take it as fact.

At 10/02/2008 01:08:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

The article is pretty well-researched, but the point of it is...does recycling overall make a difference?

It all comes down to what you recycle. And there is a lot of wasteful recycling on things that aren't in high demand (plastic is generally considered worthless).

And considering that the timber industry continues to ensure their livelihood by planting more and more trees, recycling paper is pretty worthless as well.

The article is a bit outdated since recycling has become less wasteful on tax dollars (because more and more people do it and it has become cheaper and more profitable).

It's not just about energy consumption, it's about cost and value. There are more sides to the argument than the EPA's life cycle analysis on recyclables.


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