The Reign of Recycling

“…In 1996, I wrote a long article for The New York Times Magazine arguing that the recycling process as we carried it out was wasteful. I presented plenty of evidence that recycling was costly and ineffectual, but its defenders said that it was unfair to rush to judgment. Noting that the modern recycling movement had really just begun just a few years earlier, they predicted it would flourish as the industry matured and the public learned how to recycle properly.

So, what’s happened since then? While it’s true that the recycling message has reached more people than ever, when it comes to the bottom line, both economically and environmentally, not much has changed at all.”

h/t TF

  • andycanuck

    Yeah, rinsing everything out before putting it in the recycle bin also uses alot of water that’s a real (and not pretend) valuable resource in many places.

  • dance…dancetotheradio

    Recycling aluminum is cost effective since it uses less energy than mining and smelting it.

  • WalterBannon

    Recycling is a waste of time.

    The only resource this planet is running short of is brains.

  • Maggat

    Gets even worse when one lives out in the sticks.
    Paper products, pretty easy to sort out and ready to move.
    Steel cans much the same, except they require washing out and with my own water system it costs. Oh, aluminium, don’t know, so throw them in the steel can bin.
    Cardboard, such a joy to disassemble boxes, or cut them up when required. But what does one do with all the many bits of plastic attached to the card board, oh well, into the cardboard bin. Same with the cardboard containers with steel and plastic lid rims and bottoms.
    Plastic, all goes into the plastics bin. Many require washing, refer to the water costs, and then there are the ones that I will not wash as so doing puts unwanted residue into my septic system.
    Where are we now, oh yes, the 12 mile round trip to the nearest recycle bins and I forgot glass, in the garbage, it’s not recyclable.
    Cost effective? Not as far as I’m bloody well concerned.

  • ntt1

    I recycle a lot of my waste into heat by burning it in the wood stove. bags go to the general store for reuse and organics to our compost as we always have . it takes about 3 months to fill the recycle bin with cans as we avoid that kind of food.the cats like their wet glop in cans however and the can stream is all down to them.

  • marty_p

    Recycling is a wonderful concept – where it falls apart is when we find out the municipalities end up trucking all that recycled newsprint to the landfill due to a glut in global newsprint prices. Or the office cleaner who takes the recycling bin under my desk and dumps its contents into the garbage because they are too lazy to keep the recyclables separate.

  • tom_billesley

    In the UK there are regular reports of fires in stockpiled separated waste. I suspect there’s no market for it and a match is cheap..