I’ve been doing some reading up on recycling, and it’s kind of distressing. It turns out the whole thing is mostly bogus.
1) It doesn’t save money. Only recycled aluminum saves anybody any money. The rest of it — paper, plastic, “green”, whatever — is all subsidized by local, state, and in some cases federal money.
2) It doesn’t help the environment. In most cases more energy is spent creating new stuff from old stuff than creating new stuff from raw stuff. Paper comes from tree-farm trees, not old-growth forests, so you’ve got a renewable resource right there. I’m not sure what the energy I/O is for plastics, but since you’ve usually got oil-fired equipment making your oil-based goods, burning more fuel oil in order to save a bit on the longer-chain polymers is likely a wash. Again, aluminum is the notable exception. This is why aluminum recyclers and junkyards full of metal don’t need government subsidies.
3) Landfills are good things. With current technology and “green” legislation surrounding them, they don’t stink, and they end up as beautiful parks, wildlife preserves, and golf courses when they’re filled up. We’re not running out of space for them, either. Note also that landfills end up as very, very deep carbon sinks for those of you worried about greenhouse gases. Tree-farm trees soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, that carbon stays in the paper they get turned into, and then we BURY IT FOREVER. Oh, and then we plant MORE TREES.
4) It makes us feel good. Um… so what? I’d rather learn to feel good planting trees than sorting my plastic wastes.
I got onto this anti-recycling kick after watching a very entertaining episode of “Penn & Teller: Bullshit” on DVD. But that was just entertainment (and rather foul-mouthed entertainment at that), right? I decided to do some reading up, to see how much of what they were saying actually held water.
It turns out it all did. Recycling is a Big Lie, perpetrated by misguided, uneducated idealists, and funded by People In Favor of Big Government.
All that said, we have a recycling bin here at home and we’re keeping it. Why? Because the taxpayers here in Orem, UT are subsidizing it. I can get a recycling bin for $3.00 a month, or another garbage can for $6.00 a month. I no longer harbor any illusion about the recycling being “good.” It’s just a trash can I don’t mind keeping in the garage because what goes into it isn’t smelly.