Recycling

Some Towns Are Trashing Their Costly, Inefficient Recycling Programs

The market seems to be sending towns and cities a powerful message that there is no need to recycle all the things all the time.

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Ingram Publishing/Newscom

Should that empty soda bottle go in the recycling bin or the trash can? Increasingly, it doesn't really matter.

A large portion of America's plastic and paper waste used to go from our recycling bins to China, where it was refashioned into everything from shoes to bags to new plastic products. But since the end of 2017, China has restricted how much foreign trash—er, recycling—it buys, including cutting off purchases of waste paper products, like all the junk mail that goes directly from your mailbox to the recycling bin.

As a result, The Atlantic reported Tuesday, some American cities and towns are sending all those recyclables directly to the landfill.

In Franklin, New Hampshire, for example, a curbside recycling program that launched in 2010 was able to break-even when the town was selling used paper, metals, and plastics for about $6 per ton. Now, the town is being charged $125 per ton to recycle that stuff. Instead of asking residents to pay much higher prices to recycle or cutting other city services in order to be able to afford the recycling program, city officials have decided instead to send those recyclables to an incinerator. Towns in Idaho, New York, Virginia, and elsewhere have had to make similar choices in recent months, The Atlantic reports, as environmental signaling has come at a steeper price.

Some places are stockpiling their recyclables in the hopes that things will turn around—in other words, in the hopes that China will start buying more American refuse again—but the sudden shift in the market has less to do with China than it does with the American fascination with recycling. Even as municipal recycling programs became almost ubiquitous in America over the past few decades, the underlying infrastructure remained economically and environmentally flawed.

"Recycling has been relentlessly promoted as a goal in and of itself: an unalloyed public good and private virtue that is indoctrinated in students from kindergarten through college. As a result, otherwise well-informed and educated people have no idea of the relative costs and benefits," wrote John Tierney in a must-read 2015 op-ed for The New York Times that predicted many of the problems facing the municipalities highlighted in The Atlantic's story—including the slumping demand for recycled goods brought on by lower oil prices and cheaper manufacturing processes.

In fact, Tierney predicted many of those same problems all the way back in 1996, when he authored a longer takedown of the American recycling regime for The New York Times Magazine. In that piece, he argued that "recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources."

Meanwhile, it remains far cheaper to simply bury the trash. As Tierney noted in that 1996 piece, all the trash generated by Americans for the next 1,000 years will fit into less than 1 percent of the land currently used for grazing animals. Modern methods of landfilling mitigate environmental hazards and allow the land to be reused for parks, grazing animals, or building baseball and tennis stadiums.

Which isn't to say that all recycling is bad or that it should never be done. There are cost-effective ways to reuse some common goods, like paper, under some circumstances. But Tierney's view—and the reality now facing some American cities with expensive recycling programs—is that the benefits of recycling have been overstated for years and the costs never clearly understood.

Consider a simple municipal recycling program. You've got a few guys riding around town on large trucks to collect all that plastic, aluminum, and paper waste. You've got to pay them, of course, and you have to buy and maintain the truck, and put gas in it—which means you're creating more greenhouse gases. And that's just to collect everything. You have to pay more people to dig through it and decide what's recyclable and what's not, and about 25 percent of what enters the recycling stream is too contaminated to be useful, according to the National Waste & Recycling Association. Then you have to use more trucks, barges, and trains to get it wherever it needs to go to be recycled. Paper has to be pulped, which requires heat, which might be provided by a coal-powered plant (more greenhouse emissions). The same is true for plastic, which has to be washed with hot water and then melted down.

Americans are really good at buying stuff, and many consumer goods are cheaper than ever. That means we create a lot of waste—60 percent more of it in 2015 than in 1985. But this is a very good sort of problem to have. People living in poor countries don't have the luxury of worrying about recycling or landfilling the things they can't afford to buy in the first place.

We're also just not very good at recycling, despite decades of advocacy campaigns. As Reason's Christian Britschgi has reported, the Environmental Protection Agency says only about 9.5 percent of the plastic generated in 2014 was recycled that year, with 15 percent being incinerated and 75.5 percent of it winding up in landfills.

That's why it's particularly galling to see some places respond to the recycling crisis by focusing on what The Atlantic's Alana Semuels terms the "fourth r beyond 'reduce, reuse, and recycle'—'refuse.'" San Francisco's city government, she writes, "wants people to be smarter about what they purchase, avoiding plastic bottles and straws and other disposable goods."

Asking people to be more thoughtful consumers is one thing, but San Francisco isn't really asking. The city has banned some products entirely, like plastic bags and straws, and has imposed taxes on single-use items like carry-out boxes. That's not going to make recycling more economically feasible or environmentally friendly, but it is going to drive up the cost of doing business in the city and create more inconveniences for everyone who lives there. As for the idea that the tech-heavy Bay Area is going to suddenly become a place where people don't want to buy new things, well, I'll believe that when I see it.

Like most other civic issues, recycling programs should be judged by their costs and benefits. That means an honest assessment of the costs and benefits, one that leaves out the social signaling of environmentalism and the feel-good effects of putting an empty Coke bottle in a plastic bin that's painted blue instead of black. There is no need to recycle all the things all the time, and the market seems to be sending towns and cities a powerful signal about the benefits of calling trash, trash.

NEXT: Rand Paul Fails Parents and Kids of Every Political Persuasion by Offering Weak Support for Vaccines

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  1. This is why there are no female libertarians.

    1. TANSTAAFL

    2. So that’s why it’s so hard to get laid at the meet-ups…

  2. As Reason’s Christian Britschgi has reported, the Environmental Protection Agency says only about 9.5 percent of the plastic generated in 2014 was recycled that year

    AND ALL OF IT WAS STRAWS.

    1. FAIL. That’s a Straw Man argument, Epic fail.

    2. Ok, it’s starting to go to landfills now that governments are starting to realize they are losing money. However, the straw band costs government nothing, if you exclude enforcement. So banning straws is a good way to keep up the “I am saving the environment” virtue signalling even though it has no affect (he repeats himself: virtue signalling = has no effect).

  3. Obviously the solution is to pack all that trash?er, recycling–onto old cargo ships to be run aground in Bangladesh.

    1. Which the Bangladeshi would consider a win-win.

      Ironic? I think not.

  4. As for the idea that the tech-heavy Bay Area is going to suddenly become a place where people don’t want to buy new things, well, I’ll believe that when I see it.

    Would you believe San Francisco is going to suddenly heavily tax new things?

  5. After leaving college I lived in a high-rise apartment with a trash chute. Very convenient. Everything that could fit went down it, and anything else you just left in the trash room.

    When I was buying my first house I worried that I would feel bad at how little I would use the recycle bin they give us for free, because I’m lazy. It turns out that I couldn’t possibly live without it, as I order so much stuff from Amazon, etc., that there would be absolutely no way to get rid of the cardboard plus normal trash without both bins.

    1. there would be absolutely no way to get rid of the cardboard plus normal trash without both bins.

      I give you points for consistency in adherence to your stupidity. Most of us would simply buy a second bin, make two trips, find a way to produce less trash, or come up with some other solution. Bravo on proudly proclaiming your utter worthlessness unless handed a solution the problem you created.

      1. I’m trying to be relatable. In reality I have no idea how it works. My houseboy takes care of that stuff. If I do happen to produce any trash, he takes it away from me on a silver tray. Where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. Probably a bin of some sort.

        1. You call your Mom a house boy? That’s not very nice.

          1. Better than what your mom asks me to call her.

            1. Ma’am? I thought you were gay?

              1. Gay for your mom.

              2. IT’S MA’AM!

        2. “I’m trying to be relatable”

          “Trying” being the key operative.

          This is more pathetic than your usual cries for attention. As always: obvious troll is obvious.

          1. Why is it that when I cry for attention you come running?

    2. “trash chute”

      Tony’s college nickname.

      1. Not.just college.

    3. I lived in a low-rise apartment – the trash chute kept getting filled up because there was no other damn place to put the trash in downtown San Diego.

      As for your house – the recycling bin isn’t *extra*. Its what you got in place of a second trash can. As a kid, back when you provided your own can and they were metal (Oscar the Grouch cans) you put out as many as you needed. And I use my ‘recycling’ can as a second trash can anyway – mostly for lawn refuse or those weeks when I forgot to put the regular one out and need the second.

      1. Nah we get it automatically and pay a nominal fee for different sized trash bins. This happened while I was apartment living. Back in the day it was constantly cleaning up the yard from the inevitable dog feast on our curbside bags. I don’t recycle anything but cardboard though.

        1. Because you don’t have enough government enforcement to do the right thing, correct?

        2. While you were still apartment living, and before municipal recycling was big, you could get 2 or 3 trash bins provided by the city, all you had to do was ask. When they introduced recycling they cut the trash bins to just 1, although you can get additional recycling bins for free (I have 1 trash, 1 yard waste, and 2 recycling bins, all provided free* by my village)

          *Paid for by sanitation taxes and other fees

    4. which brings to mind the utter stupidity of buying on Amazon anyway. COnsider: Vendor #1 is in Santa Clara Calif, gets an order for Widget @34, and ships it to Kennebunkport Maine. Vendor #2 is located in Waterbury Vermont and sells one of the identical items. That one ships to Puyallup Washington.
      BOth need a new shipping carton, total distance travelled by the two items is around 6,000 miles, then the no longer needed shipping cartons get… trashed. In realty, the maximum distance the two needed to travel to supply the two buyers is about 1000 miles. Better yet, why can’t those two buyers simply drop by a nearby retailer, buy the items, use no box and only a bit of fuel, as they were already out and about.
      So Tony, by buying on Amazon so much is killing the planet………. incuding some trees, plenty of dead decayed trees, (fuel) and wasting the time invested in moving things about pointlessly.

      1. The Amazon delivery idiot continually delivers to me something that was ordered by someone a block away. Yesterday he delivered a small (1.5×1.5×2 inch) box of stool softener in a box that measured 4x8x12 inches.
        Having delivered this person’s Amazon stuff before, I promptly tossed everything in the garbage. If Amazon wants to pay me I will again deliver this stuff to the proper address.

  6. Wait, no market failure propaganda? Oh, I see, it’s government, and they never fail.

  7. Consider a simple municipal recycling program. You’ve got a few guys riding around town on large trucks to collect all that plastic, aluminum, and paper waste. You’ve got to pay them, of course, and you have to buy and maintain the truck, and put gas in it?which means you’re creating more greenhouse gases. And that’s just to collect everything.

    Good point. If there wasn’t a recycling program you wouldn’t need a truck to pick up any of that stuff.

    1. Garbage trucks don’t have two internal bins, one for trash and one for recycling. Its the same truck, it just comes around on another day.

      1. But because it has to visit each house twice its still driving twice as much, and burning twice as much fuel (although my village runs 2 trucks on the same day, 3 in the summer to pick up yard waste as well)

      2. Where I live, it’s two trucks on the same day. But your point stands: it’s roughly twice the pollution.

        (On a somewhat related note) I tell my wife if you have to wash out plastic to recycle it, you should just throw it out. She doesn’t believe me, but my idea is, there’s a good chance the plastic will end up in the landfill anyway, so there’s no point wasting time, energy, and water getting it ready to recycle. Even if we knew for sure it’d be recycled, it may still be a better balance to trash it than rinse it.

        1. the washing part is a fools errand since it all gets melted down any way and in places where water is scarce not the most environmental of choices, however a quick rinse is good to keep the bears from getting into the bin

      3. Mine do. It’s a 2/3 1/3 split. Not sure which is for recycling
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQS-2tJuEec

      4. Garbage trucks in my neighborhood have two internal bins, one for trash and one for compost. The recycling is picked up by a different truck, on the same day (a few hours later, for maximum noise and inconvenience).

    2. The trucks are the biggest part of the problem now. In our town we have trucks for recycle trucks for green waste and trucks for waste waste its silly. Even sillier is that most properties around here are on acreage so why pay for green waste when you can make a compost pile or burn it for heat

  8. A large portion of America’s plastic and paper waste used to go from our recycling bins to China, where it was refashioned into everything from shoes to bags to new plastic products.

    No it wasn’t. A small percentage of it was, the rest went into a landfill, hence China’s ban on imported foreign trash.

    Recycling has probably done more damage to the environment than any other wayward environmental program.

    Price signals are your first indicator of the value of recycling. If recycling were working the way it was sold, they’d be paying me to take the stuff in my blue bin. But they don’t. I have to pay for it. Why? Because all those extra stops, sorting and categorizing that go between me and the landfill cost money. It’s cheaper to just send stuff to the landfill and be done with it.

    1. But recycling can be cost effective if not just done as a crowd pleaser. Aluminum is a great product for recycling. Plastic, the opposite.

      1. Not from the home or office – not without co-opting people to provide free labor for the initial sorting.

        And aluminum isn’t considered particularly profitable to sort – or else more people would be out there picking through trash for cans to sell.

        On the plus side – if we go to all-renewable energy, the cost of energy will skyrocket making new aluminum production extremely expensive (energy being its main cost) that you’ll once again see the massive waves of newly homeless people out there picking up those aluminum cans again.

        1. That’s why I’m anti homeless programs. We have 2 gius walking around every trash day sorting the aluminum out for free.

    2. Just read the Paul’s Law link. Excellent. I propose a corollary. The more we discuss the relative play acting of the current recycling effort, the more likely somebody calls you or me a shithead, so that as n, the number of reviewers increases, the probability that the this event occurs approaches 1.

  9. Paying for the disposal is the problem. It’s a free rider problem cuz the resources loop is open cuz resources/land is not included in marginalist econ. Those who package their products don’t pay anything even though its their products that have to be disposed. If they had to pay for the disposal, they would find ways to reduce the packaging.

    And yeah, it has to be a govt solution. Like a reverse VAT or something – where the goal is not to raise revenues for govt but for a pricing system to work between the producers/user of packaging and the disposal/recycling/etc side.

    1. how about… shoppers go through checkout and then, while still in the store, take all of their products out of the wrapping and throw it in the store’s receptacles… one step closer to putting the burden on the supplier… but then store faces increased costs for trash disposal… raises price… loses market share… goes out of business… workers lose job/wages…

      Also… if we reduce packaging, where is the gov’t going to put all of the mandated warning labels???

      1. You’re just pointing out how nothing can ever change until the loop is closed. Something as simple as a bottle deposit can serve to close the loop for an easily recyclable form of packaging (70+% bottle/can recycling in states w deposits, 15% in states without).

        Leaving that loop open (state-level laws, no cost for other forms of packaging) is precisely the reason why no new business models can pop up for either product distribution (eg companies that fill a niche in bulk-dispense in supermarkets to bring-your-own customers) or recycling (no scale if all they can rely on is bottle deposits in very few states) – and why there is zero effort to reduce packaging. And why it increasingly ends up dumped on munis for them to pay.

        Exporting garbage to China was evidence of something seriously screwed-up in our own market. Even more perverse, it created the mindset where a tool like Boehm can assert ‘why bother – trash is proof of our wealth’ merely because recycling isn’t ever gonna be some biz where Wall St and the donor class can make a killing.

        The key issue is to close the loop via a mandatory charge (which means its a tax of some sort) where the revenue stays inside that system to close the loop – rather than leaving the system to fund govt and thus leaving the loop open.

        1. Oregon have bottle deposits, and mandatory buy-back by the retailers. Portland especially have an insanly large “homeless” population. Washingon, just across a river from Portland, have nowhere near as many homeless, and no bottle deposit/recycle. Ive seen “homeless” riding brutally tough big bicycles with huge trash-bags full of pop cans, wider than the sidewalk they ride upon, bringing them to the northernmonst deposit refund stations on the Oragon side.

          Oregon have few bottles/cans lying about. Washington have plenty,.

          Part of what made shipping recycles to China is that all those seafreight cans had to get back there anyway, and so for minimal extra cost the junk could ride back almost free. Now they are exporting far less, fewer empty cans need to get back to China. Time was, when steel prices were through the floor, it was cheaper to make NEW seafreight cans in China and dunp the one-trip nearly new ones this side the big puddle to be turned into backyard storage, jobsite secure storage, cheap parking lot warehousing at Fred meyers, Safeway, etc.

          1. You speak the truth. You’ll ALWAYS see homeless hanging around Delta Park on weekends, waiting for the softball tournaments to be over so they can dig through the trash.

        2. “The key issue is to close the loop via a mandatory charge (which means its a tax of some sort) where the revenue stays inside that system to close the loop – rather than leaving the system to fund govt and thus leaving the loop open.”

          Fuck off, slaver. There is no need for any of that.
          Fucking lefty ignoramus.

      2. Immigrants do that here every Christmas since Mexico charges for imports so they get rid of packaging in the target parking lot to avoid the taxes when they cross back over.

      3. why I refuse to shop at Costco anymore… their packaging is amongst the most offensive anywhere. I also refuse to buy apples in a hard tray, all or nothing, one bad one in there spoils the rest, and I can’t “deselect” any of them. Give me loose produce from a bin and I’ll hand pick and put into a lightweight poly bag to take home.

        As to that last point….

        That is HILARIOUS!!!!
        Thanks for the great laugh.

        Maybe that’s why California seem to sell in larger quantities in the same container… more space for the gummit proper gander. Of course, when everything including the air they breathe causes cancer and thus MUST be warned against on the retail packaging, whaddya speck?

    2. The end consumer pays for the disposal right now. If disposal costs were significant (they aren’t) then those people would be asking for less packaging and manufacturers would be working to provide it to undercut their competitors.

      Instead people are asking for *more* packaging. Have you seen the trend in the last few years to individually wrap produce? Food workers going through tons of disposable gloves? The ‘Unboxing Experience’?

      1. One area where I see less packaging is bottled water. The bottles got thinner and the caps shallower. I assume this is because they don’t need to contain pressurized carbonation so the the manufacturers can cut back on material costs (since the water doesn’t cost them much)

        1. Some day they’ll have water piped in & out!

      2. Disposal costs aren’t significant because we’ve been able to send our garbage halfway around the world to China so they can pay to dispose of it. Now they don’t want to pay for that anymore.

        The only ‘signal’ that the market is currently sending that is accurate is that Americans aren’t going to spend time at home sorting through their own trash. That is always gonna be the worst possible place to ‘do’ anything – cuz at that level you can’t even really charge differentially for hauling. Try to do that and people will dump their garbage on their neighbors.

        That doesn’t mean you can’t close the loop. It just means residential waste is the residual at the end of it

        1. “Disposal costs aren’t significant because we’ve been able to send our garbage halfway around the world to China so they can pay to dispose of it. Now they don’t want to pay for that anymore.”

          So what?
          Fuck off, slaver.

          1. “Disposal costs aren’t significant because we’ve been able to send our garbage halfway around the world to China so they can pay to dispose of it. Now they don’t want to pay for that anymore.”

            So what? Every noticed how some things are cheaper in some areas than others? Ever noticed how much is imported from China and elsewhere because it’s cheaper to make it there?

            Are you suggesting there’s a problem simply because it’s cheaper there than here?

            1. “Are you suggesting there’s a problem simply because it’s cheaper there than here?”

              I’m suggesting there is no problem at all. I have no idea what the rest of your post concerns.

    3. But the land is a fixed cost. It doesn’t increase over time, because once the landfill’s full, it’s used for something else.

      The real estate isn’t costless, because you need a site at a convenient distance from the waste generators, but in the long run it becomes an asset.

      1. That’s actually not the case. One of the reasons we started sending garbage to China was because those landfills were starting to get really expensive. The older full ones leak toxics into groundwater and leaked gases like methane into air. They require about 30 years post-closure before the landfill itself ‘stabilizes’ and can be turned into something else. Newer ones are built better from the start – but are expensive and run into serious NIMBY and non-NIMBY siting issues and they still have that one-full generation post-closure lag – which means tipping fees run up very fast.

        All that is a reason that the number of landfills in the US dropped from 7000 or so in the 80’s (now at about the 30-yr point if that’s when they were closed) to about 2000 a decade ago. Now that is supposed to jump back up now that we have to dispose of our own garbage again – and they’ll magically be near-free. I call BS.

        The only thing those garbage exports did was erase our memory – so there will be calls to ‘scrap the regulations re landfills’ as old-fashioned and out-of-date – so landfills can again be sited in places and built at costs that will ensure failure. So in 10 years, we’ll be right back where we were in the early 70’s when those regulations passed near unanimously cuz the problems were so bad then.

        1. The closest comparison to the US re what waste disposal will likely cost is Canada (lots of land and landfills and DIDN’T export garbage to China). Dumping fees in Calgary are about $110/tonne. Average in the US is less than half that. Ours will go up higher cuz we have to buy land for that and construct them NOW rather than 10/20 years ago.

    4. “And yeah, it has to be a govt solution. Like a reverse VAT or something – where the goal is not to raise revenues for govt but for a pricing system to work between the producers/user of packaging and the disposal/recycling/etc side.”

      Fuck off, slaver.
      There is no ‘free-rider problem’; the people who buy the goods pay for disposal of the packaging.
      You’re a fucking ignoramus.

      1. Ya sure. That’s why we have 1300 or so Superfund sites. All of which were disposal sites. None of which are being cleaned up. Now we get to repeat that – and pass the costs of cleanup on to the next generation. Just like everything else we do.

        1. JFree|3.7.19 @ 5:11PM|#
          “Ya sure. That’s why we have 1300 or so Superfund sites. All of which were disposal sites. None of which are being cleaned up. Now we get to repeat that – and pass the costs of cleanup on to the next generation. Just like everything else we do.”

          OK, you fucking lefty ignoramus, give us a list of those which are plain, old garbage earth-fill sites. Yes, qualify your idiotic claim that Superfund sites have something to do with garbage. Go ahead, I’m willing to wait for you to make a fucking ignoramus of yourself as you so regularly do.
          How dumb do you hope to prove yourself, you pathetic excuse for a human?
          Fuck off and die; make the world a better place.

    5. And yeah, it has to be a govt solution. Like a reverse VAT or something – where the goal is not to raise revenues for govt but for a pricing system to work between the producers/user of packaging and the disposal/recycling/etc side.

      Oh, c’mon, that’s just sophisticated bullshit, and mainstream Watermelon policy for a very long time. In fact in some parts of Europe it’s been implemented.

      It’s not a reverse VAT or any such thing. It’s just a tax. Plain and simple. It’s a tax on production, and it’s goal is exactly to raise revenue. It’s the holy grail of revenue schemes just as any VAT is. Witness how popular they are and how the governments of the world love them.

      The solution is to put the cost directly on consumers by having a pure market solution. And as usual the pure market solution, wait for it… is to do NOTHING. You especially don’t have public waste disposal. You leave it up to the consumer to get rid of their trash. They have no choice but to pay for disposal unless in very short time they want to be climbing over cardboard, plastic and rotting food scraps to get to their front door.

      But no, let’s create another massive bureaucratic machine full of inspectors, tax gatherers and compliance officers.

  10. “…Instead of asking residents to pay much higher prices to recycle or cutting other city services in order to be able to afford the recycling program, city officials have decided instead to send those recyclables to an incinerator.”

    Back in the day, part of my job dealt with “making” electricity from burning trash err…Municipal Solid Waste/Refuse Derived Fuel. This seemed a logical alternative to just incinerating it. There were several plants around the country… what was interesting was when area recycling programs took combustible trash out of the waste stream and reduced the fuel supply for these plants.

  11. Responsibility has a cost!

    Who needs it?

  12. This is a big problem and Reason is great to point it out. We have recycling theatre in the USA, rather than an effective recycling program in the USA. People would rather feel good than do good, because the only effective way to make this work is to allow small businesses in the mix.

  13. Penn and Teller BS covered this a dozen years ago…

    Enviromentalism is a religion

    1. Its 20 years now. Wasnt it mid 90s? Showed my wife the show on Amazon. She felt stupid as she believed half of the bullshit.

    2. Yes, and as an apostate I get negative reactions. In California they do, “(ask), NO DEMAND, “residents to pay much higher prices to recycle”. But, California is a true-believer state.

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  15. 1) I like Tierney.

    2) Always felt forced environmentalism was propaganda rooted more in ‘feel good sentiment’ than sound science or financial consideration. Same with those silly bags that are supposed to be better for the environment than plastic bags in grocery stores.

    3) I recycle intermittently. And even then it’s just to keep the city of my back. I throw the odd stupid thing in there. But people are addicted to it and think you’re killing earf softly with your song. Never purposefully bought a recycled item or product.

    4) Been hearing how environmental policies or activities like this have an opposite effect on the environment for years. Similar to what I read about electric cars. Totes environmental.

    5) Composting bins are a new thing around here. This one is a bit comical for similar reasons mentioned in the article. My grandparents used to compost and they did it in the fricken 40s on. No need to get a big truck to pick it up.

    1. Forced environmentalism is how liberals treat all calls to action. They want to force others to do it so they dont have to. See lazy fucm Tony above. He actually advocates to enslave other people do he wont have to work.

      1. Calm down Susan.

        1. Fuck off, shitbag.

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  17. With the exception of metals, most recycling efforts are a net loss.

    1. I have wondered if municipal recycling programs should just take aluminum cans. I presume they’re far more valuable than paper or plastic; aluminum sells for something like $1800 a ton on the London Metals Exchange. There’d be no sorting, and cans are light/compactable. Just be honest and tell people cans are the only things that are worthwhile to recycle.

  18. Back in the 1970’s my organization, ECO-NOSTRUM proposed at a county public meeting in Waveland, MS, that we build a pyramid (like in Egypt or Mexico) of all trash, instead of burying it. It could be enormous and take several years of all compacted trash, built up meter by meter, with easy access to trash trucks. Then, it wouold be a great tourist attraction, and sealed on the outside with the dirt extracted at the beginning to dig a massive hole so that most of the debris would be underground..

  19. Keep America green.
    We should all recycle.
    Recycle glass, plastic, paper and the politically correct.
    People make great fertilizer.
    Just ask Jimmy Hoffa.

  20. Here in south Texas, us inbred, backward folk have recycle bins the size of a doublewide. No separating anything, just put anything recyclable (the bins have helpful pictures on top), wheel them out and away they go. I am careful to separate them from the trash but of course the wife and kids are not, just like they can’t turn out the lights when leaving the room, etc.

  21. I say if its cheaper to bury it, bury it, and if it ever becomes valuable again people can dig it back up. it will be like banking for future use.

    1. The only way recycling ever made economic sense was by getting the gullible to do the sorting for recyclers for free…

  22. It never “mattered”. It is all forced eco-penance for despoiling Mother Gaia.

    In my town it’s optional, so I don’t. If there’s anything valuable in my trash, the fucks who pick it up are welcome to go through it and take it…

  23. Oh, none of this matters, does it? We all know that the revolution has no cost. And it’s about time we all woke up to it. The “revolutionaries” have always subscribed to that idea and now they’re getting elected to government and stating it openly. You think they’re joking? I guess that outlandish stuff in Mein Kampf seemed pretty hilarious for a while, too.

    No. [German accent] it’s policy now. Or it soon will be. Doesn’t matter that recycling programs are inefficient when the fate of the planet is at stake.

    By the way, [wink, wink] “has no cost” is a euphemism for high body count. Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

  24. Penn and Teller covered Recycling in their popular BullShit series exposing how recycling was simply bullshit. With the exception of aluminium recycling was nothing more then another form of government control over people via the use of fear, making people fearful of a polluted world for their children if they did not recycle. Does this fear of the future if you don’t do as we say now sound familiar?

    HINT: Man made climate change will lead to the end of the world if you don’t start paying carbon offset taxes.

  25. “China has restricted how much foreign trash?er, recycling?it buys, including cutting off purchases of waste paper products, like all the junk mail that goes directly from your mailbox to the recycling bin.”

    Thank heavens that the federal government supports the USPS.

    I have to have my free junk mail!!!

  26. Definitely the problem lies in the generations of waste – not trying to clean it up afterwards. Mandating that all container plastics be biodegradable (as they used to be in large part) would really help things along, for instance.

    1. You might be missing the point of this whole thing. It’s not about saving the planet, it’s about political philosophy. There’s a reason for the term Watermelon.

      Single-use plastic bags have recently been banned in New Zealand; a wealthy, somewhat-sane Western nation. These are the bags we all take for granted, used everywhere and often. Completely banned because they apparently choke turtles when they blow around in the environment. That’s no joke.

      When presented with the alternative of using low cost biodegradable bags (made from corn starch) as a direct replacement, prominent environmentalists came out strongly against it on the basis that it would send the wrong message that such flippant conveniences should be regarded as normal.

      Their goal is not to save the planet. Their goal is to control your behavior. Their goal is to kill capitalism and substitute a command economy.

    2. Spookk|3.7.19 @ 7:05PM|#
      “Definitely the problem lies in the generations of waste – not trying to clean it up afterwards. Mandating that all container plastics be biodegradable (as they used to be in large part) would really help things along, for instance.”

      Definitely, the problem lies with lefty slavers who claim to know what others should do.
      Fuck off, slaver.

  27. To end most junk mail waste, just end the Post Office.

  28. If the sea is rising, as they say, we’re going to need all our discarded materials to add to the land to make it high enough to not be flooded.

  29. If the sea is rising, as they say, we’re going to need all our discarded materials to add to the land to make it high enough to not be flooded.

  30. You should read the WSJ on this. Government should make people recycle. It’s for the planet so cost is no object.

    Sigh.

  31. When I lived in St. Petersburg, FL they had a federal grant for a recycling program. At some point the federal grant ran out but they kept on sending out the recycling trucks and people kept putting their stuff in the bins but the trucks just went to the dump and dumped the stuff in with the rest of the trash. This went on for about five years apparently because the local government just didn’t want to let the employees (no doubt loyal supporters of their employers come election time) go.

  32. When I lived in St. Petersburg, FL they had a federal grant for a recycling program. At some point the federal grant ran out but they kept on sending out the recycling trucks and people kept putting their stuff in the bins but the trucks just went to the dump and dumped the stuff in with the rest of the trash. This went on for about five years apparently because the local government just didn’t want to let the employees (no doubt loyal supporters of their employers come election time) go.

    1. You can say that again.

  33. When I lived in St. Petersburg, FL they had a federal grant for a recycling program. At some point the federal grant ran out but they kept on sending out the recycling trucks and people kept putting their stuff in the bins but the trucks just went to the dump and dumped the stuff in with the rest of the trash. This went on for about five years apparently because the local government just didn’t want to let the employees (no doubt loyal supporters of their employers come election time) go.

  34. A few years ago, my town’s garbage collector dropped off recycling bins for each house. But they never said what was supposed to go in it. Plastic? Metal? Both? The bin has been sitting in my garage ever since, and all my garbage goes in the regular garbage bin.

  35. Recycle is good less demand is better

  36. Being wasteful of resources is never wise. What some capitalist pig needs to do is figure out something useful to do with poorly sorted waste.

    I’ve thought about it some, and some stuff comes to mind. No serious cleaning (uses energy and water), and just straight running it through a wood chipper like machine, perhaps use plastic waste as fill in material (like aggregate is in concrete) to make bricks or other similar materials, using new plastics as the main component? You might be able to have a large percentage of the total mass be just BS unsorted, varying types of plastics in there. Since people will LITERALLY pay you to take this material now, you’d have negative product cost on that portion of the material. The recycled stuff could either just be mixed in while the item is setting, hence not even melted and retaining its different colors etc, OR just tossed into the mix and melted together with the new plastic. It wouldn’t adhere to any exacting plastic formula, but melty goo should mostly all stick together when it’s content is that randomized.

    Wouldn’t be useful in all circumstances, but I imagine for exterior stuff where you need some sort of solid brick like things or patio “stones” or whatever it could work. One could do similar things with glass waste in glass, or even as aggregate in concrete etc.

  37. Soiled, greasy paper? If we don’t want to just burn the shit for power, how about using it in mass scale shitty low grade compost/fertilizer? With no cleaning/sanitizing it wouldn’t perhaps be good to use on human food… But to chuck in fields growing animal feed grade corn, or hay or whatever? Good enough! Compressing into man made logs? If chopped finely, it could probably be safely just thrown in the ocean as it would biodegrade in a non damaging way.

    I’m sure 1,000 other things could be thought of to utilize these waste materials where they require minimal/no processing, but are still put to at least some low use. There are billions of dollars to be made in finding a SOLUTION for this stuff that puts it to good use, instead of just chucking it and burying it.

    1. In what possible world would greasy paper be a good compost? Changing to “animal feed” crops doesn’t change fundamental science, like the fact that grease repels water and has a limited number of things that can biodegrade it (the latter is also true of paper, and its pulpy nature probably wouldn’t make it easy to plow, especially when it dries out and sets like a rock).

      1. It’s not ALL going to be greasy! The point is that the small percentage of greasy paper makes the other 90 something percent have to be sorted, or just tossed out, as it can’t be used to make new paper or cardboard. This makes it not viable. Avoid having to sort it, and all of a sudden it works.

        Actually where I live we are supposed to put greasy pizza boxes etc in with the yard waste nowadays, because this is exactly what they’re doing with it.

        Also, it’s not GIANT chunks of paper… It gets ground up, put into a mixture with soil etc, allowed to break down for a bit, and THEN used. It creates no issues. Wood (ash, bark, chips, etc) is actually GREAT for crops in terms of nutrients, paper being made of wood, it’s not bad to chuck in, even though it’s not as good nutrient wise as bark or whatever.

        My point was merely that there ARE ways to get at least a LOW use out of this stuff if we put on our thinking caps. If sorting is one of the biggest problems, come up with uses that don’t require sorting. Simple as that.

  38. The book “Prescription for the Planet” advocated “incinerating” all waste in a “fusion torch” running at 30,000 degrees F. All materials (including metals and ceramics) dropping through its chute are reduced to a type of elemenatal dust that can be used in construction. The heat given off by combustion helps to power the process. Threr are hardly any fumes?the intense heat strips their molecules to elements. Thus, there’s no need for landfill pits.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know if it was that exact process, but I’ve read that burning things at certain super high temps actually makes it basically non polluting before. ANYTHING useful that can be done with this stuff is better than just burying it.

  39. How any politician could have fallen for this scam shows how poorly they value their time, and mine….Recycling relies on very, very high-value time (for example, a physicians) to do a job the local town can not afford to pay low-value time workers (say, minimum wage employees) to sort their trash.

    Sorry, but when they legislate the economics, they clearly are not favorable to the process.

    And those stupid bins are just virtue signalling on the curb. Some jurisdictions (in Quebec, for example) actually have enforcement thugs to make certain you ‘sort’ correctly…

  40. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
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  41. All my “recyleables” go into the wood burner.

  42. “…including cutting off purchases of waste paper products, like all the junk mail that goes directly from your mailbox to the recycling bin…”

    This part caught my attention because so much of what I get in my mailbox goes into the recycling bin and never enters my home. Someone drives a truck to deliver and another drives a different truck to take it away. Cutting down trees to make paper, burning fossil fuels to make the round trip to a destination that never wanted the stuff in the first place.

    Forget about privatizing the post office just eliminate it. E-mail faster more reliable and I can put all this junk in the spam folder and take some trucks off the road. UPS, FedEx deliver packages better. End the wasteful nonsense.

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