Monday, September 27, 2010

Recycling is Garbage, Part II

More on recycling from Jeff Jacoby (see previous post here):

"Most of the stuff we throw out — aluminum cans are an exception — is cheaper to replace from scratch than to recycle. “Cheaper’’ is another way of saying “requires fewer resources.’’ Green evangelists believe that recycling our trash is “good for the planet’’ — that it conserves resources and is more environmentally friendly. But recycling household waste consumes resources, too.

Extra trucks are required to pick up recyclables, and extra gas to fuel those trucks, and extra drivers to operate them. Collected recyclables have to be sorted, cleaned, and stored in facilities that consume still more fuel and manpower; then they have to be transported somewhere for post-consumer processing and manufacturing. Add up all the energy, time, emissions, supplies, water, space, and mental and physical labor involved, and mandatory recycling turns out to be largely unsustainable — an environmental burden, not a boon.

Recycling makes many people feel good, but feelings are not the best test of environmental soundness.  When it makes more sense to recycle than to throw something away; government compulsion isn’t needed (Don Boudreaux reminds us that "The benefits of recycling clothing are large enough to prompt us to buy costly clothes-recycling machines that we routinely use to recycle for tomorrow the clothes we wear today.  We call these machines 'washers and dryers.'"). And when recycling is a profligate use of natural and human resources, government mandates can’t change the fact. Big Brother can force you to recycle your garbage, but that doesn’t make garbage-recycling green."


At 9/27/2010 10:53 PM, Blogger Chris said...

I think the economics on recycling are changing, so lets some more current data on that. Many city's now use the same trucks pick up both trash and recyclables. The recyclables are run though an automated single sort system, so it is far less labor intensive than it was. The city of San Antonio reported that it cost the same to pick up trash or recyclables. The city then got paid $20 per ton for the recyclables and had to pay $20/ton to dispose of the trash.

Maybe there is enough aluminum in the stream to make it worth while? or maybe some of the other goods have become worth something.

At 9/28/2010 1:16 AM, Blogger Mandamus said...

Not recycling leaves the crap in our environment to poison us and our children. Why do people like you constantly attach a price to the future of the human race? Do you hate your children?

At 9/28/2010 6:26 AM, Blogger Chris said...


He is not saying to garbage in the street, he is just saying it is more cost effective to landfill the recyclables. There is a large difference between what he said and what you said.

At 9/28/2010 10:00 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Why do people like you constantly attach a price to the future of the human race? Do you hate your children?"...


I hate your children...ROFLMAO!

Get a grip lad and do some homework...

More on recycling...

At 9/28/2010 4:55 PM, Blogger Craig said...

Why do people like you constantly attach a price to the future of the human race? Do you hate your children?

We could have perfectly-safe automobiles, too, you know, though they would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each. I guess you could say we are attaching a price to human life by sticking with the current, cheaper ones.

Shame on us.

At 9/29/2010 1:22 AM, Blogger Irrippi said...

Chris: it's cheaper to recycle aluminum than to mine bauxite. That's why aluminum recycling existed long before mandates. Paper recycling uses more resources than it saves.

Most city recycling programs exceed their capacities. The excess goes straight to landfills.

But what problem is a landfill? You're just taking a resource, using up its best qualities, and then moving the remnants elsewhere.

Mandamus, have you ever considered what we must do with the chemical residue from the paper recycling process? How can you burden your children with such toxic waste when paper in a landfill is harmless?

At 9/29/2010 1:39 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Mandamus - our children will thank us for stockpiling valuable resources in landfills for them to mine after socialism destroys the economy!

At 9/29/2010 6:55 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I think the economics on recycling are changing, so lets some more current data on that.

There is no debate on this issue. When you add up all of the costs recycling does not pay and wastes resources. While the environmentalists like to pretend that there is no cost to the additional sorting plus all of the equipment that is being used the facts clearly show that it costs more if there is a recycling program than if there isn't. The reason why cities have recycling programs is political, not economic. The only beneficiaries of recycling are those that line up at the trough to get paid, not the taxpayers who pay them.


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