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Recycling Is Garbage Redux

Economic imbecility or religious ritual?

NoRecyclinghannaheadlightNearly 20 years ago, New York Times journalist John Tierney investigated the economic and environmental effects of mandatory recycling in his article, "Recycling Is Garbage." His article basically concluded that mandatory recycling did not make much economic or environmental sense and legendarily provoked the most hate mail ever delivered to the Times. Now, nearly two decades later, the editors at the Times asked Tierney to revisit and re-report the topic which resulted in his new op-ed, "The Reign of Recycling," in this past Sunday's edition. So what did he find out this time?

From the article:

Despite decades of exhortations and mandates, it’s still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies. ...

In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year — about half the budget of the parks department — that New Yorkers are spending for the privilege of recycling. That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions.

Tierney probes why such a large segment of the public and so many politicians want to impose recycling requirements. For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared "zero-waste" as a goal for the city to achieve by 2030. Tierney argues that such goals have become for some people a form of repentance for the "sinful" enjoyment of material affluence:

Religious rituals don’t need any practical justification for the believers who perform them voluntarily. But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly. Seattle has become so aggressive that the city is being sued by residents who maintain that the inspectors rooting through their trash are violating their constitutional right to privacy.

It would take legions of garbage police to enforce a zero-waste society, but true believers insist that’s the future. When Mayor de Blasio promised to eliminate garbage in New York, he said it was “ludicrous” and “outdated” to keep sending garbage to landfills. Recycling, he declared, was the only way for New York to become “a truly sustainable city.”

But cities have been burying garbage for thousands of years, and it’s still the easiest and cheapest solution for trash. The recycling movement is floundering, and its survival depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing. How can you build a sustainable city with a strategy that can’t even sustain itself?

That's a really good question. The whole article is well worth your attention.

For more background, see my colleague Katherine Mangu-Ward's excellent article, "Plastic Bags Are Good For You."

Disclosure: Tierney introduced me and moderated a discussion about my new book, The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century, at a book party in New York City last week.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hugh Akston||

    For example, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has declared "zero-waste" as a goal for the city to achieve by 2030.

    "Garbage isn't something you just find lying on the streets of Manhattan."

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Or is it?

  • SimonJester||

    Nope, garbage is what is elected.

  • Bodica Slayer of Woodchip||

    One woman's garbage landfill is another woman's husband.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    But what happens when the landfills are full? When New Jersey is full?

  • Number.6||

    If NJ filled up --- how would you notice?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    The Mafia would find a solution.

  • ||

    But what happens when the landfills are full? When New Jersey is full?

    Perhaps the long term plan is to continually raise the level of the coastline to outpace sea level rise.

  • Sevo||

    "But what happens when the landfills are full?"

    About the time the sun goes out?
    "For many years the media has published innumerable stories which worry that we are running out of landfill space."
    http://www.postcom.org/eco/fac.....dfills.htm

    Or, we can always use ski-slopes:
    " the Germantown Sanitary Landfill in Wisconsin that is now a ski slope."
    Check Wiki under 'landfills' (f'g skwerillz)

  • Bodica Slayer of Woodchip||

    New Jersey II. Call New Jersey I "The Garbage State" and New Jersey II "The Garden State"

  • Robert||

    Of course you don't. That's his job.

  • ||

    Hugh, for that quote, I give you the worst grade imaginable: an A-minus-minus.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Look Epi, if you want better references, first I'll need tenure, and a big research grant, plus access to a lab and five graduate students, at least three of them Chinese.

  • Free Society||

    Listen, there's not enough non-Chinese graduate students for everybody. You'll have to take at least four.

  • Jimbo||

    Looks like Hugh would be happy with 5.

  • Brian||

    Because when you avoid recycling garbage over a silly thing like money, then it's really just the man.

    Money is a construct. Garbage is real.

    Dead indians are crying over the garbage.

    This is what capitalism gives you: enjoy a picnic lunch with your children at the landfill because its just cheaper that way.

    This is in no way hyperbolic.

  • Anomalous||

    How does a dead Indian cry?

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    With salty ham tears.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Prosciutto, please!

  • ||

    This is what capitalism gives you: enjoy a picnic lunch with your children at the landfill because its just cheaper that way.

    We have picnics at the local park. We forego the local ski hills and go sledding at the local (former) landfill because it's cheaper that way.

    The hills are hyperbola-shaped, otherwise, this is in no way hyperbolic.

  • Illocust||

    I wish he'd brought up things like how it's better for the environment to make new paper than recycle old paper. Money is not going to convince these guys to not do something.

  • commodious spittoon||

    It's not their money, why should they care if it's spent irresponsibly?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    What really bugs me about this and so many other decisions is that prices have almost all the necessary info built in. When process A is cheaper than process B, it's a huge big clue that process A is better for the environment, for productivity, for efficiency, for everything.

    And then I weep big salty prosciutto tears for all the ways governments corrupt prices and markets and then whine about how markets and prices are corrupt.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    wake me when somebody figures out how to recycle used diapers.

  • B.P.||

    Diaper cannon?

  • SugarFree||

    Throw them at the mayor

  • kbolino||

    They'll just ban disposable diapers. You'll have to use cloth diapers instead. Then they'll go after sewage.

  • ||

    how to recycle used diapers.

    Save them and dry them. They can be burned to generate heat in the event of emergency. Or as fire starters for the grill.

  • Number.6||

    Releasing all the carbon in them into the atmosphere, YOU MONSTER!

  • ||

    "But it's baby carbon!"

  • B.P.||

    I'm sure the comments section for that op-ed is hilarious, but I'm not going to find out.

    Another factor seldom mentioned is that cities benefit from a steady stream of free labor -- those dutifully sorting all of their trash for recycling purposes. Hell, my wife even pays to rent a compost bin, which the city empties every couple of weeks and... well, I'm not sure where all that muck goes, but I don't really give a damn where my (NY-style) pizza crusts turn to dirt.

  • SIV||

    The comments are about like you'd expect. More boring zealotry than clueless hilarity.

  • Illocust||

    Where are you seeing a comments section for the most recent article?

  • SIV||

    Click the button on the upper right of the page that says "comments".

  • GILMORE™||

    The first 2 links both just go to his 1996 piece "Recycling is Garbage"

    This one has the comments

    ...which are largely a blend of "BUT MAH FEELS" and NIMBYism re: landfills.

    They prefer Recycling because it feels like they're "Doing Something" and because landfills are an eyesore.

  • Illocust||

    There was a surprising number of dissenters calling for an economic analysis. Usually the NYT is way more one sided.

  • the other Jim||

    I was surprised by that, too. Kind of heartening.

    But still, there were many people objecting that landfills are poisoning the environment, or something. Even though the op-ed addressed that issue and pointed out that modern landfills are pretty well lined to avoid contamination. And that they take up a vanishingly small amount of land in the U.S. Not sure if they didn't read any of that, or if they just aren't capable of believing it.

  • GILMORE™||

    Yes, about 30% seemed to actually grasp the notion of Cost-Effectiveness as something worthwhile, rather than something which morally superior people should handwave aside in some version of,

    "Wasting money is ethical!"
    or
    "Not everything is profit!!"
    or
    "Its the price we pay for civilization!"

    etc.

    Real examples

    "Recycling may at times not be cost effective, but we have an obligation to future generations to get our waste habits under control no matter the cost...

    The mindset that "easiest and cheapest" is best is what has led to our unsustainable lifestyle in the first place. ...

    In taking a largely cost-based approach to his argument he misses the idea that having a landfill in a given area may provide a financial benefit, but the aesthetic of the area declines....

    Why does recycling not have to cost money? It costs money to make a package from materials in the earth; why should it not cost a roughly equivalent amount of money to return it to the earth? ..."

  • Robert||

    Landfilling does return it to the earth! How much more obvious does it have to be??

  • Cro's Innumerous Basterds||

    I think you SugarFree'd the link...

  • GILMORE™||

    Doh

    do that a lot lately.

  • Robert||

    404. Is that URL cursed? Bailey failed, then you failed 2ce.

  • ||

    Gilmore, are you multi tasking while you link?

    Which begs the question: Doing what!

  • GILMORE™||

  • Rhywun||

    They're slowing introducing mandatory composting here in NYC. Which I find hilarious given that most of us don't have yards. Let me just add that there is no goddamn way I'm going to keep a pot of rotting food in my tiny kitchen, either. This religion is getting out of hand.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Someone is about to be round up and re-educated.

  • LynchPin1477||

    about to be round up

    Monsanto's evil plans are finally revealed!!

  • commodious spittoon||

    They're seeding the atmosphere with round-up ready compost chemtrails MADE FROM PEOPLE.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    I thought Soylent Green was people?

  • Lee G||

    Recycling has economics like everything else. The objection should always be to government mandates, not the act of recycling itself. If someone can make money by recycling in a free and open market, then more power to them.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    market failure. duh.

  • ||

    Recycling has economics like everything else.

    Agreed. Let me know when you see a hobo rooting through a dumpster fishing out HDPE, polystyrene and old New York Timeses.

  • ||

    Pardon me Sir. That would be a bum. Hobos worked part time not unlike migrants. Moreover, they traveled by freight train nationwide. Whereas, bums collect recyclable metals (or glass bottles in a few states) to purchase their next bottle of Wild Irish Rose.

    Just feeling contrary today.

  • Michael||

    The scrappers that come through my alley every morning seem to make enough to keep doing it.

  • Robert||

    The objection should always be


    You don't get to decide what persuades someone else. What about people who have no objection to mandates? Ever think of trying to convince them of something, without having to convince them to object to mandates?

  • VicRattlehead||

    theyre just recycling the wrong way, they need moar top menz

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Progressivism is just a variant of theocracy; blind faith in irrational precepts.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Tierney probes why such a large segment of the public and so many politicians want to impose recycling requirements.

    Because people don't like the idea of big piles of garbage sticking around for a long time. It's an abstract thing for anyone not literally living in a garbage dump, but I get it. It's why I pack out non-degradable, non-burnable trash when I camp/backpack.

    Now how many people would voluntarily pay for that preference? I'd guess a healthy minority, probably mirroring people who are willing to pay a premium for organic/local/non-GMO produce and/or humanely-produced animal products.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    And by "humane" you mean "uneconomic"?

  • LynchPin1477||

    No, by humane I meant satisfying certain subjective criteria regarding how animals are treated.

    Now, if by uneconomic you mean for feeding the entire country/world, then yeah, given current preferences and alternatives.

    But that market seems to be doing just fine as a niche, and I'm not aware of any subsidies or handouts that are going to it.

  • ||

    Don't be intellectually dishonest, Chippy. It can be both. For people like me the animals suffering actually has a negative value and I'm willing to pay more to reduce that.

  • SimonJester||

    "for people like" you? I would be interested to hear why animal suffering has an "actual" negative value, and why you believe you are different.

    I am 100% serious, what negative value does the suffering of animals carry, and is it for anyone, or is it specific to you? And why?

  • R C Dean||

    what negative value does the suffering of animals carry, and is it for anyone, or is it specific to you?

    Let's start from the other end, and see where it leads:

    What negative value does the suffering of other people carry, etc.

  • ||

    You are also 100% an idiot, or perhaps mendacious, if you don't know there's an ongoing convo about animal cruelty and that I'm one of many people in society who care about that.

    Get back to me if you decide to debate honestly, or at least do a better job of faking it.

  • SimonJester||

    Dude, chill the hell out. I was not trying to debate, I was interested to hear what you were reading. I am well aware of the "ongoing debate," I am well aware of how stress hormones affect food, both in taste and how a body processes them.

    I was wondering whose research you were reading, and a few points that have already been addressed below.

    First, what do you mean by "actual" value? Do you mean that there is a price value you put on it, or do you mean that it has a physical affect to a human body? Both are true, i was just trying to clarify.

    Second, you said "for people like me." I was, again, wondering if you had a specific condition that made you more susceptible stress hormones in animals, or if "people like" you are those who are aware of the consequences. Both seemed possible. Chill.

    I am still, however, wondering what your thoughts are. I am not trying to debate, you wanker, I was trying to learn.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    I'd like to know what an "actual" value is.

  • ||

    One that I'm willing to pay money for. Why is it that any discussion of animal cruelty brings out the worst sorts of intellectual dishonesty here?

  • Number.6||

    One that I'm willing to pay money for.

    Good for you. The fun thing about "value" is that it's subjective, and even for an individual, it varies over time.

    Many people "value" the flavor of meat far more than the "suffering" of the animal they're eating doesn't weigh heavily on their calculus of value.

    They are them, you are you. They have no obligation to sail their lives directed by your moral compass.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Right, that's what I was getting at. Simon sounds like he believes in some objective definition of value, as if the psychological distress you and others feel don't count as 'actual negative value.' It's no different than if you refused to buy veal because you dislike the taste of it.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    As an individual choice, to each his own.

    Just spare us the moral scolding, which is what the loaded term "humane" is.

  • ||

    When people try to address this with laws, you whine about property rights. When people try to address this with moral arguments, you whine about that.

    Seems like I've struck a nerver, otherwise you'd have just scrolled down, or filtered me.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I wasn't trying to scold. To me, humane just means trying to do something without causing undue suffering. I suppose you could argue that modern animal husbandry doesn't cause *undue* suffering when you consider the demand for animal products and what is required to satisfy it. But I also suspect demand for animal products would be different if more people looked in detail at how some animals are treated.

  • Number.6||

    ... or if your shaming tactics were more effective.

  • Rhywun||

    I don't get the connection between a garbage dump and cleaning up after yourself in a forest. The garbage dump IS a garbage dump - it is specifically set aside for that purpose. A forest is NOT a garbage dump, so cleaning up after yourself is merely the polite thing to do because someone after you doesn't want to camp in your garbage.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    And if someone WITH a yard charged their non-yarded neighbors $6/pound to compost the city would declare such activity illegal.

  • LynchPin1477||

    That makes sense, but I still feel a desire not to leave my trash lying around for hundreds of years (I'm thinking specifically of slow to degrade things like plastic). I fully admit it's an aesthetic preference and one that likely only matters in the abstract, but I'd be willing to pay some sort of premium for it.

  • Number.6||

    If it salves your conscience a bit, the biodegradability of plastics varies wildly - and the idea that plastics will be around for hundreds of years is largely bunk. There are many factors that affect the speed of decomposition - UV exposure being a significant one - but even buried under landfill, most of the dumped plastics are pretty much gone far sooner than we're led to believe.

    And really - a landfill that takes 200 years to degrade is no big deal. If it upsets people that much, go find an opencast coal mine, and fill that up with diapers and 2 liter soda bottles. Cap it with soil, mark it on a map and forget it for a while.

  • Overt||

    This is especially true if you consider that the whole point of a dump is to properly dispose of trash in a way that leverages specialization to gain efficiencies at scale. In the middle of a forest, we don't gain from those efficiencies. However once the garbage is packed to a dumpster, those efficiencies exist.

    Sanitation engineers do a huge amount of work to seal in trash and (once the landfill is complete) remake the area such that it can be reused for many purposes. There are ski areas, golf courses, parks and even commercial buildings sitting atop landfills today and you would never know it if people didn't tell you.

    The recycling mandates actually shift resources away from landfill management. Here in Los Angeles, we are forced to divide our trash into garbage, recyclables and yard waste. However all of that gets RESORTED at a central collection point, which means we are all wasting energy doing the presorting. And the waste management company is spending time reclaiming materials that are not economical. If they spent that money instead on better landfill management- pulling out only those materials that made economic sense- it would actually improve waste management in the world.

  • Spartacus||

    "even commercial buildings sitting atop landfills "

    This part surprises me. I would think that there is a lot of settling and subsidence as the garbage decays, which would not be good for a building.

  • Slumbrew||

    All of Back Bay in Boston was, in fact, a bay and is now landfill (and about the priciest land in the city). This was old-tyme landfill so, yeah, settling is an issue, which why things like Trinity Church is built on 4,500 piles driven into the earth.

    Modern fill is more stable, I suspect, but there techniques to deal with unstable land, regardless.

  • Number.6||

    If you seal the landfill to keep groundwater out (which certainly used to be the US policy) - "Cover and Contain" - sinking pilings and making sure you keep the structure reasonably small seems to not be much of a problem.

    The British (and most of Europe) approach was usually to ensure that the landfill floor is above the water table, and leave it open to groundwater (Dilute and disperse). This is why lots of UK former landfill sites look like the set for "Tellytubbies". They're resculpted as rolling grassland, usually, and in the unlikely event that something was built on them, it was something like a light industrial park. By design, their contents are meant to be subject to leaching and dispersal.

    The US approach is far superior in practice, (IMNSHO) because so much uncertainty is eliminated. Changing water tables, improper site surveys, sub-standard civil engineering etc punishes the locals in Britain far more than in the US. Nothing worse than waking up one day being told that you're on the edge of a lead plume emanating from that landfill that closed 40 years ago, and that you can't drink the well water.

  • Robert||

    And what's wrong with plastic items being around for centuries, if any of them are? What harm does their existence do? It can't be chemical harm if it's that unreactive. It can't be physical harm if it's buried. It must be psychic.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I said as much. It's an aesthetic preference.

  • ||

    But don't forget that the garbage doesn't go directly from the trashcan to the dump, it has to be transported, often in stinky containers on RR cars. That makes life even more unpleasant for people living near the tracks.

    We have a super huge dump in rural Virginia and much of the trash that goes in that comes from PA and NJ.

  • Overt||

    So what? That has nothing to do with recycling. Whether you recycle or not, it is a fact of human existence that large metropoli will produce tons of stinky garbage in addition to shit, waste water and other stuff that the people can't have filling up their streets and yards.

    The important thing is to dispose of that waste as well as possible. Most recycling is a hindrance rather than a benefit. Why do you think they have these mega landfills? In addition to NIMBY's making any sort of waste management difficult, the costs of mandated recycling are reduced through centralization which encourages a few landfills to truck in waste from all over, instead of being sent to local landfills.

    Yeah, it sucks to live near railroads. That has always been the case, and won't change. The good news is that people living near them get a discount on their rent/mortgage. They can decide whether it is worth the tradeoff.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead.

    I believe the legal term for that is "Mission Accomplished".

  • Dot||

    It looks like the link to the current article actually goes to the old 1996 article...

  • ATXChappy||

  • Robert||

    Hey, someone finally succeeded in URLing that! It kept ducking & dodging.

  • Cro's Innumerous Basterds||

    Bailey is just getting into the spirit of the thing and recycling.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly.

    FREE RIDERS!

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    Notice how "zero-waste" only applied to you and your household activities and not government. If zero-waste were an actual goal, 50% of NYC employees, including police and teachers, would be fired.

  • ||

    Given the feel-good popularity of recycling, I'm not sure this is the best hill for libertarians to choose to die on. Mandatory is another matter entirely. As alway, the do-gooders are never content to do good themselves but seek to force everyone to go along with their plans.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    Which means it's about property rights. Which is the #1 hill libertarians should fight on.

  • kbolino||

    Indeed, what good hills are there for us to fight on? Drug legalization? Marijuana decriminalization might have some popular support, but it sways with the questions being asked and the people being polled. Moreover, there could be substantial backlash in public opinion if it doesn't go swimmingly. I think a lot of libertarians imagine some sort of watershed moment similar to the repeal of alcohol prohibition, but there are plenty of issues that were "settled" decades ago and yet about which popular opinion remains divided.

    If you're only willing to fight the easy battles, then you're not really fighting at all.

  • Libertymike||

    A related principle is that it matters not WHO is an advocate for free minds and free markets, even if the advocate is not otherwise likeable.

  • ||

    Yeah, second amendment is a totally easy battle what with those piles of dead children and all.

  • kbolino||

    It was you who conflated--perhaps unintentionally--popular support with the worthiness of the hill to die on ("given the feel-good popularity, ..."). I'd agree that, in a zero-sum game, gun rights are far more worth fighting for than not being forced to recycle. But it isn't a zero-sum game; and even if it was, then we might just be left with nothing but our Second Amendment rights, and that just means violent revolution is the only answer to every other problem.

    As it stands, one can both push back against religious dogma like this, and also push for the rights that we all are naturally entitled to enjoy.

  • ||

    And my point was that if libertarians address everything equally we'll win at nothing. I'm not happy about that reality, but I accept it. I also accept that to preserve the second I have to ally myself with unsavory (to me) socon types because there is a huge overlap between socons and 2A supporters.

  • kbolino||

    Just taking Reason's articles as a proxy for level of effort spent fighting, there have been multiple articles on guns for every one on the environment. And probably dozens on guns for every one on the viability of recycling. I don't see what the problem is.

  • Robert||

    Indeed, what good hills are there for us to fight on?


    Taxes, taxes, TAXES!!!

  • ||

    That's right, Chippy. Everything is a rights issue. You can be an ideologically pure libertarian and never accomplish anything. Then you'll wonder what happened when the gun grabbers come for you and you were too busy whinging about recycling.

  • Libertymike||

    Tonio, you have some logical fallacies at work in your post.

  • ||

    And those would be...

  • Libertymike||

    One, that defending against coerced recycling inevitably leads to the gun grabbers coming for our guns.

    Two, that to the extent friends of liberty contest coerced recycling, they can't defend gun rights.

    Three, if friends of liberty insist upon a strict application of the NAP, they will not accomplish anything.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    How is gun grabbing not a property rights issue?

    If you want to chop up "property rights" into sub issues so that you can win some, you are guaranteeing that you will lose some and set dangerous precedents in the losses that WILL affect the sub issues you thought you could win.

    In short, this meme of "hills for libertarians to die on" is just an asinine attempt at groupthink. If you don't want to fight that battle, then fine; we can't expect every libertarian to fight every battle, that's just impossible. But to slog some for fighting it is to fall for the divide and conquer strategy of statists.

  • ||

    In short, this meme of "hills for libertarians to die on" is just an asinine attempt at groupthink.

    Ah, so you inherited John's awesome powers of knowing what others think.

    Chop up, prioritize, whatever. Go ahead and equally address all issues. Let me know how that works out for you.

  • kbolino||

    The libertarian case is that recycling is a service, like any other. Paying for it out of taxes might make some kind of sense, inasmuch as paying for any common service (trash, sewer, etc.) does, but it definitely should not be mandatory. Moreover, governments should not be pushing people, whether through tax-funded advertising or police-backed mandates (admittedly, the latter is far worse than the former), into using a service of debatable benefit.

    The "pure" libertarian answer is to privatize it and let the providers charge for the service accordingly. Is $20/month too much to feel good? What if it's $100/month? Forcing a confrontation between stated and revealed preferences is good for more than just schadenfreude.

  • ||

    This. And that's one of the many reasons progs hate the idea of privatization - it makes it easier to opt-out.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    The whole point of (urban) taxes paying for garbage disposal is because the alternative is people just throwing trash in the street or their neighbor's yard.

    I can't wait for the world's stupidest person - Rahm Emmaunel - to get the inevitable backlash of his moronic taxation ideas to save bloated police and fire pensions. By having a separate garbage fee, he is assuring that some people in marginal economic neighborhoods will forego the fee and just dump their junk into vacant lots. Just saw a pile of tires 6 blocks from my house yesterday - I'd call the city but at this rate they will investigate ME for the violation and it simply isn't worth it.

  • ||

    The thing about tires is you can't just put them in the garbage, at least not where I live. You have to take them to the dump yourself, and pay a disposal fee. And given the hours the dump is open that means getting up super early, or sacrificing a Saturday morning.

  • Number.6||

    Gee. Sounds like a business opportunity, just like the companies who go to restaurants and abbatoirs to buy scrap fat and used cooking oil.

  • ||

    Yes, it is. And there used to be junk men who would bang on your door and offer you money for items in your trash. Licensure requirements have pretty much shut those down (government causing problems, again). Plus some things are classed as hazmat, which again gets into regulation and expense.

    "Any rags, any bones, any bottles....?" That used to be the cry of the junk peddler.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Sounds like clean up from Warty's basement...

  • Number.6||

    Where recycling meets something that looks suspiciously like an explosion in a mayo factory.

  • Rhywun||

    That's like saying the whole point of taxes paying for schools is because the alternative is people just sitting their kids in front of the Xbox all day.

    Most people don't want to live in garbage, nor do they want to deal with the hassle of their neighbor suing them for dumping their garbage next door. If they can't afford to not live in garbage, well, that's not my problem but I'm sure some altruist can step up and help with the cost.

  • Overt||

    The whole point of (urban) taxes paying for garbage disposal is because the alternative is people just throwing trash in the street or their neighbor's yard.

    False choice.

    Despite government mandated trash bins, my old neighborhood in Pasadena CA had all sorts of trash piled up in vacant lots. So it doesn't seem like government provided the solution. The fact is, Government can give a shit about poor neighborhoods. Its residents work long hours and don't have stay at home mothers/fathers who consider it a personal mission to bug the local councilcritter all day.

    Indeed, it is a self-perpetuating cycle. If the remedy to every answer starts with "Call bureaucrat-X" then people develop the mindset that it is the government's job to fix all this shit. In fact, if the government weren't there as a convenient excuse, people would actually organize themselves to take care of the problems.

    We organized to turn a vacant lot into a community garden. Guess what stopped us? The local government had taken control of the lot and left it there for years waiting for some developer to come along and do something with it. That developer had other things to do (when not giving donations to the local council's campaigns). The problem would have been solved in a matter of weekends had every action not required weeks of permits and emails with disinterested public-sector buffoons.

  • ||

    There is already a quasi-private force picking up aluminum cans in Minneapolis and they have urinated off the city:

    http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/.....s-illegal/

    The city of Minneapolis said it’s losing $135,000 a year because of thefts from recycling bins.

    Minneapolis said the problem exploded during the economic downturn, and the city hopes a new single sort system — and warnings on the bins — will help people realize it is a crime.

    Ron Corbett has been picking up recycling in Minneapolis for 15 years, and said he’s seen thieves walking brazenly away toting large bags.

    I don't even know where to begin with this level of stupidity.

  • ||

    Point out that the city is denying the homeless with a means to at least partially support themselves. There is an inherent conflict between the goals of greenies and the welfare of poor people. Point that out at every opportunity.

  • ||

    Point that out at every opportunity using concrete examples. They really go ballistic when you illuminate this as a principle.

  • Swiss Servator||

    *listens, hears prog heads detonating*

    Hey, that is cool!

  • Rhywun||

    The problem is like all people pushing feel-good crap, they don't know when to stop. See my rant above about composting. The only reason they get away with the current requirements is because they aren't terribly onerous.

  • ||

    Also, when you make that shit mandatory the poorest compliance is among the poor, which runs up against another proggie goal.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Question for Rhywun or other New Yorkers:
    When I was visiting family in NYC about 3 years ago they were telling me about the garbage police. If you didn't sort, some inspector would slap you with an administrative fine.

    Is that still a thing?

  • Rhywun||

    I've never seen it personally but my previous landlord when I was living in a house was very anxious that we recycled properly so I think yes. Now I live in a larger building and I just assume any fines are built into the rent - for this reason I am not particularly careful with my recycling. Jars of mayo, for example, get tossed in the trash because I can't be bothered with washing them.

  • Slumbrew||

    Artisan mayo, from Brooklyn, I assume.

  • Rhywun||

    We don't have that in my part of Brooklyn, so no.

  • Slumbrew||

    This can't be too far away: http://www.empiremayo.com/

  • Rhywun||

    Too far to walk, so nope.

  • Robert||

    I put them in the recyclables container w/o washing or rinsing. After all, the garbage men pick them up, & they're used to handling dirt.

  • Robert||

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Same as Rhywun. I lived in a small, three-story building in Queens for a year, and the landlord made a big deal about getting a fine once regarding recyclables. Then I moved into a huge building where there was not even any recycling option, just the trash chute; they either had someone sorting down there or paid the fines (given some of the renters, it's not like they were gonna get 100% compliance anyway). Now I live in something like a 50 unit building, and while we are asked to recycle, I've never heard any grouching about it for the four years I've been there.

  • Rhywun||

    I put the minimum amount of effort into it - basically, if I would have to wash it, it's not going to get recycled. And it's a complete waste of my time because nobody's looking.

  • MJGreen - Docile Citizen||

    Yep, that's what I've been doing. I recycle cans that are easily washed out and egg cartons. A jar of peanut butter or honey? I'm not gonna stick my hand in there and scrub it clean for the recycling bin. And considering our apt has trash cans outside, which people on the street use whenever they like, I know there are going to be recyclables in there anyway.

  • GroundTruth||

    As alway, the do-gooders are never content to do good themselves but seek to force everyone to go along with their plans.

    Bingo!

    At the end of it all, it comes down to some people are just control freaks. It doesn't matter what the subject, whether their point is rational or valid or not, but just that everyone has to do what they say. It's a power trip, that's all.

    What's the solution? Personally, I'm thinking a 6 mile wide asteroid coming in at something greater than Mach 20 or so might not be that bad after all.

  • ||

    Thanks, GrandTurismo. But the problem is getting them to admit they are control freaks. The vast majority of them are too clever for that and are well-practiced in framing it as concern for future generations, the environment, etc. Always stick with concrete examples, like the one with Minneapolis cracking down on free-lance aluminum recyclers.

    One of my recent triumps was getting someone opposing zoning for a dollar store to admit in print that she just didn't like dollar stores. She completely discredited all her previous arguments about preservation, etc, with that admission.

  • GroundTruth||

    I've been having the same conversations with myself about two regulatory bodies in our town: conservation and historic. I've realized that the historic are far more honest (they like old buildings) whereas conservation claims to be saving the environment, but their actions show that what they really would prefer is a world without humans.

    I'm keeping my thoughts (relatively) private since I'm having to deal with both of these groups for permission to use "my" property at the moment.

  • ||

    Yeah, there's not really much to be done about the Hysterical Preservation crowd, except to point out that anything they do is a regulatory taking. But like every other form of control freakery, control is the real issue here. Expose that and discredit them if possible; they will eventually let the mask slip.

    I'm scare shitless because my neighborhood just got designated "historic" (it's not, really), with the rote promises that that wouldn't change anything (bullshit, it's the camel's nose under the tent).

  • Rhywun||

    my neighborhood just got designated "historic"

    At least you can sell in ten years for 20x what you paid. Historic districts tend to become zoning for rich people.

  • Robert||

    She just didn't like the customers of $ stores, probably.

  • Jordan||

    It would take legions of garbage police to enforce a zero-waste society

    Jackand Ace will be in his bunk.

  • kV||

    There was a Bullshit! episode (Penn and Teller show on Showtime, not sure if it's still going) on this way back in the day.

  • Rhywun||

    Yes, and they tricked some dupes into happily recycling into something like 8 different bins. It was hilarious.

  • ||

    "...it’s still typically more expensive for municipalities to recycle household waste than to send it to a landfill. Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies. ...

    In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead. That adds up to millions of extra dollars per year — about half the budget of the parks department — that New Yorkers are spending for the privilege of recycling. That money could buy far more valuable benefits, including more significant reductions in greenhouse emissions."

    The majority of the cost of everything you buy is the cost of the energy it takes to produce that item.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    That's why it makes sense to recycle aluminum. Nothing else.

  • kbolino||

    What about glass?

  • ||

    Sand is dirt cheap (!), plentiful, and extraction doesn't cause anywhere near the damage that, say, coal mining does. It's mostly feel-good.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    NO MORE SAND IN LANDFILLS!!!1

  • kbolino||

    But sand has to be melted, too. While I think Playa is right that aluminum is the only material whose recycling is profitable, I thought that glass recycling was about on par cost-wise with glass production from raw materials.

  • Number.6||

    Let's revise "profitable" to "economically viable at the moment". Changing costs of energy could alter the calculus considerably, and could make recycling of other metals viable.

    I could bore everyone with a story about copper reclamation from spoil heaps, but it's more a matter of basic economics. The reason aluminum (plausibly lead, gold and some other metals) is/are recycled is because it's economically advantageous to do so. The reason everything else is recycled is under the threat of punishment (either by ourselves, thru' guilt, or due to government coercion)

  • ||

    Yeah, re-melting glass is cheaper than mining new sand, etc. But the practical problem is that glass breaks easily which means that its difficult to get the bottles to the recycling facility intact. That also makes for danger to the people who sort the recycling which is mostly done by hand - ferrous metal is the only thing that can be automatically sorted out with any degree of efficiency and there is an increasingly small amount of that in the municipal waste stream as we abandon canned goods.

  • kbolino||

    Fair enough; also, if Number.6 is right about the nature of making glass, then what I'm talking about (using recycled glass entirely or predominantly to make new glass) doesn't even exist.

  • ||

    I believe NoSix is right. But you never get 100% of those bottles back for recycling even with good compliance due to breakage, accidental landfilling, etc.

  • Number.6||

    Nope, you're missing my point. You cannot make good quality glass from 100% recycled glass.

    Similarly, ferrous scrap is rarely used as the only charge for an arc furnace.

    The process of separating commingled recycled waste is one where manual labor is cheaper than a high degree of automation. One comment I got from a guy I know who's in the business was that contrary to what you might think, separating ferrous alloys from a line is no easier than anything else, because the only way that recycling the steel is anywhere near profitable is when you efficiently separate grades of steel, and most importantly, remove modern magnets like fridge magnets from the metal, because if they get crushed into the 'stock' that gets smelted, it poisons the load.

    One area of research that looked like it was going places in the 90's (that I haven't followed closely) was to simply crush the whole lot and break it up into fragments. Make a big pile of it and pour bacteria over it and flush it with water for a few years, and harvest the chelates. Then follow it with inorganic reagents to extract non-ferrous metals etc.

    The problem there is that the greenies won't like that either. You can't hide an industrial process like that and a 'pile' will be around for decades - despite the fact that it would probably be the most efficient way to recycle.

  • ||

    Thanks for that insight.

  • Edwin||

    No, all metals. Non ferrromagnetic metals can still be sorted out via magnetic fields, but its via faraday principle/eddy currents. There's a big machine that spins slowly around the conveyer and all the little chips of ninferrous metal fly up into a sluce

  • Number.6||

    Yep, there are technologies that do that - but some reprocessing plants still separate by hand - and that tells me something - that at present, manual labor is cheaper than the capital expenditure required to install magnetoelectic and other technologies that separate by density.

  • ||

    Since recycling sorting is low-skill labor, I'm wondering if there are some type of tax credits for creating those jobs, particularly if you employ certain people.

  • ||

    Oh, that's so cool. Thanks.

  • Number.6||

    Well, yes, the guy I know actually gets all kinds of interesting incentives.

    25% of his staff on duty at any one time are 'special needs' clients - typically high-functioning adults with developmental disabilities.

    He pays them (minimum wage plus a few dollars) , and gets reimbursed at (minimum wage x 2) because the state program anticipates that each "client" has to be supervised by one able bodied member of staff. In practice, the clients are quite capable of doing their jobs safely, so just under half his payroll is covered by the state.

    He then gets all kinds of capital equipment subsidies, and he sells off the recycled materials. True 'waste' (which is harder to define than you might expect) gets hauled down to the burner in Bridgeport.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    It takes an incredible amount electricity to turn bauxite into aluminum. I'm not sure about glass; it's just sand. It you rinse the bottle and use it in the same form (i.e. old school coke bottles) it probably saves energy. But glass gets crushed, which basically turns it back into sand.

    Before they introduced mandatory deposits on bottles and cans here, the only thing I ever saw homeless people collecting was aluminum cans. That gives me some idea of the market for recyclables.

  • Number.6||

    New glass production uses (and has for many years) a certain percentage of old glass (known in the trade as cullet). Apparently, the resulting glass is better - but there's a limit to the amount of cullet that you can use - so there's a limit on how much glass can be economically recycled. I don't know of any useful purpose for glass beyond being cullet.

    But glass thrown in a landfill gets broken down and devitrified within a few hundred years because as the landfill consolidates with age, the glass gets crushed. Sure - you wouldn't want to dig the landfill up and walk around on the stuff without a pair of shoes on, but within a few hundred years, most of that glass will be small enough particles to look just like river glass. And no matter whether it has degraded or not, it presents no chemical hazard to life.

    Sure - the waste that gets dumped today will outlive you, but it's lifespan barely scratches geological lifespans. This idea that Gaia is a frail, special snowflake is idiotic. She's a tough old broad with 4.5 billion years experience at rolling with the punches.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Another use. They did this to a beach near me, but I can't find the article.

    Thanks for the info. It's amazing how private industry figured this out all own their own.

  • Number.6||

    The same idea for tires.

    Rubber tires are "crumbed" and a small portion is recycled to make new rubber products, and there's growing use of crumbed rubber for play surfaces and roofing materials, but as with glass, the percentage of waste product that can reasonably be recycled used is a relatively small portion of the supply.

    There are very few uses for recycled rubber, unless the government decides to start using them instead of Jersey barriers or we start to use them to effect a little regime change.

  • Swiss Servator||

    Can you make a new "Rover" out of it...oh, sorry about that #6.

  • Number.6||

    *Narrows eyes, looks fearfully at keyhole*

  • ||

    Trash as a tourist attraction

    https://goo.gl/mQzU3e

  • ||

    Also, see above about the breakage problem.

  • ||

    I don't know of any useful purpose for glass beyond being cullet.

    There are a couple of companies making counter top and architectural panels, tiles and such. It is also used as aggregate in concrete and asphalt. Color sorted glass is also tumbled for walkways and paths in landscape.

    I am using recycled glass in art and sculpture because I can get it free but for the cost of running my kilns.

  • kbolino||

    I think copper recycling has started to enter profitable territory as well; for whatever reason, the cost of sourcing raw copper has gone up quite a bit lately.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Absolutely. Copper is valuable enough that it gets recycled completely outside of the waste stream.

  • the other Jim||

    Yup. And just to add to the glass discussion: The Journal had an article not long ago about how recycling glass is a money loser because it's heavy to collect and a pain to process, and not very valuable. It quoted at least one recycling company exec who basically said "We don't want it, but we often have to take it."

  • ||

    Copper is not generally accepted as part of municipal recycling. But private metal recyclers will pay you for that and the constructions and demolition people know that. Also, thieves. A friend had the copper gutters stolen off his house a while back.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    One way or another, those copper gutters are being used to smoke meth.

  • Number.6||

    There have been a very few short periods of time since the 1970's that copper reclaimation hasn't been profitable. Same with lead and nickel

  • SQRLSY One||

    In my neighborhood, I have to PAY EXTRA in order to recycle, so I don't do it.

    (Hangs head in shame... Gaia worshippers gathering with torches and pitch-forks on my doorstep, I must go run and hide!)

  • ||

    Solar-powered LED flashlights. Those torches spew teh carbonz.

  • Swiss Servator||

    But that flashlight is probably plastic or such!

    Better to hold one arm out with a fist at the end, like a torch, and the other hand making *uptwinkles* to simulate flame!

  • ||

    *uptwinkles*

    That made me moist.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I made a similar argument about the recycling that happens on Hit & Run on the weekends.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I expected more Simpsons references, you trash eating stinkbags.

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    Yeah, those threads are like deja vu all over again.

  • DrZaius||

    Can't somebody else do it?

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    That's not America! That's not even Mexico!

  • Anomalous||

    Oh garbage dump oh garbage dump
    Why are you called a garbage dump
    Oh garbage dump oh garbage dump
    Why are you called a garbage dump

    You could feed the world with my garbage dump
    You could feed the world with my garbage dump...

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Stealing money from taxpayers in order to squander it on programs which are verifiably wasteful and pointless, just to pander to the moral preeners?

    If there's a better hill to die on, tell me what it is.

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    "If I'm gonna die for a word, my word is 'poontang'..."

  • ||

    Second Amendment?

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    Reloaders For Gaia!

  • Sevo||

    "...Religious rituals don’t need any practical justification for the believers who perform them voluntarily. But many recyclers want more than just the freedom to practice their religion. They want to make these rituals mandatory for everyone else, too, with stiff fines for sinners who don’t sort properly...."

    Gaia may work in mysterious ways, but not her followers. Just wait 'till Jack shows up to tell us to repent! Or get shot.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    I had the pleasure of talking with one of the managers of Waste Management (our city's waste contractor) about 2 years ago. He told me that there was no market for recyclables in this current economy, so they did one of 2 things:
    1) Put the recycling in with the landfill garbage, even though it was sorted and collected by a different truck.
    2) Sell it to shipping companies as ballast (international law prohibits dumping of waste across borders, selling it as ballast is a loophole)

    So we have 3 different trucks that come around my neighborhood on Mondays, making a ton of noise and collecting garbage that I'm required to sort.

    If that isn't bad enough, they just introduced the food compost bin. They left it right in front of my garage where I ran over it with my awesome dad mobile, so I won't be composting.

    TOP MEN

  • ||

    johnlaw Florida 1 day ago
    How long does it take for plastics and other artificially made products to deteriorate. A hundred years? A thousand years? Ten thousand years?

    Recycling may at times not be cost effective, but we have an obligation to future generations to get our waste habits under control no matter the cost. Burying this waste in landfill where these products will linger for a thousand years seems short sighted to me at best. I wonder of how much of this waste then enters other potions of the eco-system or the oceans creating environmental problems we have only begun to address.

    I recycle and will continue to recycle. We need to look to the future and not the fact that it may cost those living today a few dollars.

    Flag484Recommend
  • kbolino||

    We need to look to the future and not the fact that it may cost those living today a few dollars.

    What are the odds this person will turn into a screeching howler monkey when someone suggests that we pay for it through user fees?

  • ||

    "future generations" = for the children

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    "No matter the cost"
    Fuck off

  • UnCivilServant||

    How long does it take for plastics and other artificially made products to deteriorate. A hundred years? A thousand years? Ten thousand years?

    Recent evidence shows it's less than ten years.

  • Sevo||

    And nowhere is it shown that there is any srt of actual problem with them.
    Did you know it takes rocks thousands of years to deteriorate? We must DO SOMETHING!

  • kbolino||

    Rocks were put there by volcanoes. As we all know, volcanoes are not destructive to the environment like human activity. Therefore, there's nothing wrong with rocks.

  • This Machine Chips Fascists||

    +1 900ft tsunami

  • CatoTheChipper||

    I think that is only if they are exposed to sunlight, which cause UV degradation of polymers.

    If polymers are landfilled, however, they will remain stable for thousands of years. I don't see why that would be problem to a rational environmentalist (if there is such a thing). The polymer's carbon is safely and permanently sequestered underground in a landfill, never again to threaten humanity with the possibility of a planet-warming emission of greenhouse gas. Contrast that with the degradation of "natural" organic materials that inherently result in emissions of CO2, N2O, and CH4.

    The second most ridiculous position advanced by the greenies is the virtue of recycling paper and other wood pulp products. It is much better to landfill them in a sanitary landfill designed for extraordinarily slow degradation. Again, carbon (and nitrogen) are sequestered such that emissions are of GHG are slowed, while forests are replanted to produce more wood pulp, thereby sequestering more and more CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Instead, the greenies want to compel citizens to perform daily rites of religious recycling and to pay for a fleet of trucks to spew GHG and other, real pollutants to collect their offerings of duly sorted trash. It is utter insanity.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Tied for second is the absurd idea that something like a mayonnaise jar be recycled. The resources required to clean an empty mayonnaise jar -- just water and energy, forget about the life support resources for and time value of the human labor -- exceed any environmental benefit by orders of magnitude.

  • ||

    saaseng chicago 23 hours ago
    The mindset that "easiest and cheapest" is best is what has led to our unsustainable lifestyle in the first place. Simply burying our waste contaminates our own habitat, and is an irresponsible way of taking care of the planet.

    Flag128Recommend Share this comment on FacebookShare this comment on Twitter


    NYT Pick
    Christopher Johnston Wayzata, MN 22 hours ago
    Mr. Tierney either is not aware of the concept externalities, or he ignores it in making his analysis. In taking a largely cost-based approach to his argument he misses the idea that having a landfill in a given area may provide a financial benefit, but the aesthetic of the area declines. He also fails to take into account that getting the oil for a new milk bottle means drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or the middle east. He may not care about sea life, or supporting unsavory regimes with oil revenues (and the expense of our military to deal with them), but to ignore those factors is to present an incomplete or specious argument.

    206Recommend
  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Milk bottles come from oil? Hmmm...

    I'm going to be charitable and assume he means jugs. If he thinks demand for milk jugs causes additional oil exploration, he's a fucking idiot.

  • kbolino||

    Look, they fucking love science, and the nature of the fractional distillation process used to refine crude oil is just a right-wing plot to discredit science.

  • ||

    +2 Jayne Mansfield holding two glass container full of milk.

  • ||

    If he thinks demand for milk jugs causes additional oil exploration, he's a fucking idiot.

    Or mendacious, never forget about that.

    But, yeah, it is received wisdom among the greenies that each plastic milk bottle takes a gallon of oil to create. They never consider that that same gallon of oil also produces many other things. And they of course never do the math and figure if the only thing you could get from that gallon was a milk jug that it would make paper cartons much more attractive. Hell, even glass even accounting for breakage.

  • SugarFree||

    Externalities, the magical incantation that makes the left feel smart.

  • ||

    Trish Boyce Southern Illinois 21 hours ago
    I am probably one of those for whom recycling has become a religion. But as others have expressed, I firstly buy less by having a reusable water bottle and forgoing soda purchases, and secondly looking for items with less packaging. I bake bread so I am able to avoid acquiring bread bags. If I do buy something in a plastic bag, I look for ways to reuse that bag. But I will recycle even it isn't economically feasible. That has never been the point for me. It is about conserving our resources (who's the true conservative here?)

    69Recommend
  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    Not economically feasible = waste. It's is amazing how environmentalists simply don't get it.

  • Spartacus||

    Besides which, he's missing the point. If he wants to recycle things himself, fine and dandy. It's when his goodfeelz start to turn into urges to make everyone else behave similarly that he goes into Taliban territory.

  • ||

    But externalities!

  • Rhywun||

    I bake bread so I am able to avoid acquiring bread bags.

    Bullshit.

  • ||

    Meh. It's not unreasonable for someone to bake their own bread. But honestly, most artisanal loaves are packaged in paper which you need to do so the moisture can't escape. Without mold retardants that stuff molds pretty quick in plastic bags.

  • Number.6||

    Not to mention the waste in energy to heat up a whole oven, to make a single loaf of bread.

  • ||

    Meh. In winter that "waste" heat helps heat your house. Also, I believe it is possible to bake more than one loaf at a time. Don't hate on the DIY community because they are solving problems on their own and often run afoul of regulations. Focus your energies on those advocating for top-down statist solutions.

  • Number.6||

    I bake my own bread too. Sometimes, just one loaf at a time, and sometimes in summer, where the heat from the oven makes my A/C work harder.

    The point is that I don't claim that my baking is "helping the environment" - because it isn't.

    I recognize that the most energy and resource efficient way to get 100 k/cal of wheat-based nutrition is to eat a few slices of Wonderbread.

  • Overt||

    And all the package waste for buying flower by the pound instead of by the ton, etc.

  • Rhywun||

    I can understand baking all your own bread if you really enjoy cooking/baking, and you have a lot of time on your hands. But as a means to heal the earth from the scourge of your plastic bags? That is the sign of an obsessive zealot.

  • ||

    I think it was more an excuse for smuggery.

  • Swiss Servator||

    BINGO!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Put the recycling in with the landfill garbage, even though it was sorted and collected by a different truck.

    This is what they did in Indianapolis, except they seldom even bothered to employ the smokescreen of a separate fleet of trucks.

  • ||

    Not only is it a smokescreen, it's also a jobs program.

  • ||

    My favorite recycling moment came back in the '90s. My wife and I were at the Mpls Convention Center for some event where you could sample lots of food from different local restaurants.

    When we went to throw out our plates and glasses we found that the garbage cans on the floor were guarded like hawks by recycling fanatics who really FUCKING CARED about what went into each of the garbage cans. The one I ran into was willing to physically get in your way if she thought you were going to do it wrong. And it wasn't simple either. I swear there were 42 different types of garbage that all had to be put in the correct can.

    Later the wife and I were sitting next to one of the exit doors eating some other stuff and we watched the custodial staff throw all the garbage from each of the different cans into the same dumpster. I almost called the garbage protectors from the floor over to see what was happening, but I didn't because I would have felt bad for the janitors.

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    Fuck the union janitors.

  • ||

    I'm sure that them doing anything about the union janitors not following the rules would be 'punching down', which is not the PC thing to do. Anyway, they don't care about where the trash is going, they care about making sure you know that they are holier than thou.

  • ||

    The the Garbage Guards never thought the whole process through. They were convinced that by making the people sort the shit into a bunch of different bins, everything would be great.

    They never even thought to wonder how the facility was going to handle the trash once it was sorted. They just wanted to feel good about themselves.

  • ||

    They never think things through and when they get the things they want and it doesn't work, just like everyone tried to tell them, they are shocked.

  • lap83||

    I didn't realize how obsessive Twin Citians are with recycling and environmentalism in general until I moved to Kansas. On the other hand, people are a lot more slovenly down here. Why can't there be a middle ground? Don't treat environmentalism like a religion, but take the extra time to throw your beer bottles in the trash rather than out the window.

  • ||

    Some are worse than others. St. Paul makes you have a bunch of different recycling bins. At least our suburb only makes you throw all recycleables into one bin. I can make that minimum effort.

    Yeah, when I lived in Memphis it seemed like littering was much more tolerated than it was in Minnesoda.

  • lap83||

    My parents live in Roseville and until recently they had to sort recycling. They're both pretty conservative, but they still drink the environmentalist kool-aid - to a mild degree. My sister and brother too. It's not easy for me being non-green. That said, I personally have a somewhat environmental outlook, but it's based on common courtesy. I don't think government has any business in it, but I reuse things if it's economical or helps people (like donating to charity) and I don't litter because I'm not a lazy asshole.

  • lap83||

    Littering really annoys me, but it wouldn't even be as big of a problem without the tragedy of the commons. I wrote a paper in a college economics class arguing that more privatization would mean less pollution.

  • ||

    There is also a certain class of people who see no problem with throwing their trash out the car windows.

  • Swiss Servator||

    -1 Iron Eyes Cody tear

  • ||

    You should have just handed her your trash and said "you do it."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If I do buy something in a plastic bag, I look for ways to reuse that bag. But I will recycle even it isn't economically feasible.

    Do you seal your 100% biodegradeable dog shit in it?
    Because that just screams "Long term thinker."

  • ||

    It's more like religious ritual. The modern left are the most fanatical religious group in existence, following their god, the all powerful state. And it's about moral superiority. They do this for the same reason they drive a Prius, rant against GMOs, vaccines, and fracking. It's the same reason that they vote democrat and stand outside of aquariums and screech about freeing the whales and dolphins. It's mindless fanaticism.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Second Amendment?

    Third. You know, the one about quartering troops in private homes.
    Unless they plan putting a live-in cop in every home, they'll never even come close to effectively enforcing their preferred gun laws.

  • ||

    Don't think for one second that they wouldn't do that if they get the chance.

  • R C Dean||

    Oh, I suspect a gun ban that was selectively enforced on SoCon TeaBag BadThinkers would be "effectively enforced", bu the standards of the proggy gun banners.

  • Banjos||

    Not only do I refuse to recycle, but occasionally throw regular trash and yard waste in my recycle bin when my regular trash can in full. From my experience, garbage men don't give a flying fuck.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    So do I. I've hidden some pretty gnarly shit in the yard waste bin. I was able to sneak an entire propane grill in there once. The look on the guy's face when he heard it slam into the truck was priceless.

  • ||

    Some of the municipal contracts here require the driver to monitor via camera, the recycling as it is being dumped from the bin to the truck with an automated arm that picks up the recycle bin I am required to have and am charged for on my utility bill. If they catch you putting "non-recyclables" in you bin, you can be fined. I don't know how hardcore they are, but I have gotten notices about the website I am supposed to check frequently to find out what is currently acceptable.

  • ||

    *your

  • ||

    I suspect that you'll find that a pocket sized portrait of a dead president will go a long way towards smoothing over any problems, but only within limits. Bad form to try to sneak a grill in with the yard waste, since that's hard to explain away. Also, you have no idea how that grill got in there but suspect that it was those neighbors who just moved out of town. Also, also the grill is worth something in recycle value so someone will take it if you just leave it out long enough, or post on Craigslist.

  • Slumbrew||

    I'm amazed a the shit people will take on Freecycle/Craigslist. Win-win, in my book.

  • Overt||

    Yeah, when we moved a couple years back, we set out a huge amount of shit for donations and bulk trash pickup. The donations guy came by, took a few things and said his truck was full, so he helped us move the rest to the bulk trash pile. Then a guy came by before the bulk-pickup and asked if he could pull out any scrap. He took pretty much all of our bulky metal items- two rusty grills, some tv wall mounts, some metal shelving, etc. By the time he was gone, it was just some bookcases an old desk and about 20 boxes containing kids' daily art projects (talk about wasteful) from daycare.

  • Robert||

    I give a flower to the garbage man.
    He stuffs my face in the garbage can.

  • ||

    I don't recycle. And I'm not going to. The really funny thing is how these eco-nazis think that everyone else in the world agrees with them and that only redneck Murikans are so backyards as to not understand their great wisdom and state of enlightenment. I'd really love to see them try this in some countries I've been to and watch the look on their face when they are completely ignored and laughed at.

  • ||

    You bastards from unenlightened places should bow and scrape to Minnesodans like Tundra and I.

    Our govt is so enlightened that we are going to FORCE businesses to now recycle as well.

    http://www.startribune.com/new.....260862031/

    Other provisions of the law will require recycling at all sports facilities, mandate that the seven metro counties increase their recycling goals from 60 to 75 percent. Statewide, the annual $14.25 million waste reduction and recycling budget will get a $10 million boost over the next three years.

    Yeah, I love the solution where you pass a mandate to increase a goal based on nothing but the feelz. At least this time they are also throwing a shit ton of money at it too.

  • Sevo||

    "...mandate that the seven metro counties increase their recycling goals from 60 to 75 percent..."

    HA! Pikers!
    My recycling goal is 200%!
    But then my recycling result is, oh, 5-10%...

  • Jackand Ace||

    Yes. Because we just don't have enough plastic floating around in our oceans, and it's just so hard to separate out recyclables. Oh, and it's such a bad thing to attempt to reuse our waste, rather than just toss it.

    Yikes. Don't be so lazy and piggish.

  • Plàya Manhattan.||

    Fuck your religion.

  • SugarFree||

    Any trash I throw away in KY ends up in the ocean, obviously.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Jackass Ass,

    Yes. Because we just don't have enough plastic floating around in our oceans


    "We're sinners! We are fallen beings! Repent! Repent!"

    Oh, and it's such a bad thing to attempt to reuse our waste, rather than just toss it.


    What I love about Marxians is their penchant for eschewing logic whenever composing sentences.

    If you call something "waste", then by definition cannot be "reused".

  • kbolino||

    I'm sure the mythical "island of garbage" in the Ocean will show up eventually if we all believe hard enough.

  • Jackand Ace||

    "There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s oceans, and each year, 8 million tons of plastic are added to the count. That’s equivalent to one municipal garbage truck pulling up to the beach and dumping its contents every minute... According to a new report by the Ocean Conservancy, in partnership with the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, by 2025, the ocean could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of finfish."

    http://fortune.com/2015/10/01/.....pollution/

    Just a few days ago, from those Eco crazies at Fortune. But hey, you think climate change is a myth too.

  • kbolino||

    Big numbers! Big name magazines!

    Jesus, you're pathetic.

  • Jackand Ace||

    I'll see if I can find a comic book for you, kbo. I forgot you need illustrations in order to read.

  • kbolino||

    Let me know when your comic book pictures translate into reality.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Jackass Ass,

    Maybe you should read the things you post before making a... you... of yourself.

    There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic trash in the world’s oceans, and each year, 8 million tons of plastic are added to the count.

    All these floating bits of plastic – from micron-sized plastic pieces to those six-pack can rings[....]


    It is clear that the number they came up with ─5.25 trillion pieces of plastic─ is an estimate. Just how much of that is "micron-sized pieces" is anybody's guess because they're not saying.

    It is also interesting to see that the actual picture Fortune uses to illustrate their point is not from a part of the world that is heavily industrialized and rich but a poor fishing town in Indonesia, where people are culturally accustomed to throwing their garbage into the ocean rather than placing it in a landfill, which is the exact point that Tierny is making.

    So thank you, Jackass, for making the point for Tierny and Bailey. Again.

    Unwittingly, of course, but hey: you lack wits.

  • ||

    Reminds me of how Hillarity refers to the pages of emails she's submitted, and not the number of emails.

  • Rhywun||

    attempt to reuse our waste

    Love that. Is there an end to what deemed sufficiently "sustainable" or shall we all just be reduced to scratching in the dirt again?

  • ||

    So, J&A, how much of your own time and money do you spend on expeditions to recover the bottles from those huge clumps floating in the ocean?

  • Rt. Hon. Judge Woodrow Chipper||

    You know who ELSE had a disposal problem?

  • Jerry Smith||

    Dexter Morgan?

  • Swiss Servator||

    InSinkErator?

  • Robert||

    OJ Simpson?

  • Number.6||

    That guy from the meat packing plant in NJ?

  • Sevo||

    VW diesels?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Speaking of dog shit, wrapped up with a bow...

  • ||

    When Mayor de Blasio promised to eliminate garbage in New York, he said it was “ludicrous” and “outdated” to keep sending garbage to landfills

    Huh. When did they quit putting it on barges and dumping it at sea?

  • Rhywun||

    AFAIK, NYC has never done this*. I think you're thinking of the garbage barge, also a one-off event.

    *We did dump a bunch of old subway cars off the coast of NC, however.

  • ||

    There used to be a problems with shady medical waste disposal companies run by sicilian gentlemen just taking it out to sea and dumping it. Then it started washing up on the Jersey Shore beaches, which was kind of bad for everyone.

  • Rhywun||

    Oh yeah, I remember that. Ewwww

  • Number.6||

    Should have sold them to the burghers of the BVI, where subway cars make great wrecks to promote coral reefs.

  • Rhywun||

    That's what they're doing off the shore of NC, too.

  • Number.6||

    Praise be!

    Recycling with a heart!

  • Cro's Innumerous Basterds||

    NYT Comment of the Week


    thinkingdem Boston, MA 21 hours ago
    This is clearly and OP-ED piece
    So very very sad that the NYTimes lists it as 'Opinion'

  • GILMORE™||

    "thinkingdem"

    Mi tinking dis mon gwine die ef im keep like dat

  • Rhywun||

    So very very sad that my Bible's edicts aren't in total lockstep with my thinking.

  • Jackand Ace||

    Leave it to the Scotties. Best Single Malt in the world, and now recycling the waste from that process into a biofuel.

    "A Scottish company has developed a commercial scale method of producing biofuel capable of fuelling cars from the unwanted residue of the whisky fermentation process."

    http://mobile.reuters.com/arti.....cienceNews

    Maybe Tierney can tell us how that just makes no economic sense for that great industry to make an attempt to take ownership of their waste.

    Break out the A'bunadh.

  • kbolino||

    Yes, clearly the economic viability of all forms of recycling hinges on whether or not one particular form is economically viable.

    Science!

  • lap83||

    We like sustainable fuels, or fuels that come from obscure, expensive processes that allow us to signal to other hipsters. Either works

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Jackass Ass,

    A Scottish company has developed a commercial scale method of producing biofuel capable of fuelling [sic] cars from the unwanted residue of the whisky fermentation process.


    You can fuel a car with any sort of exotic fuel, Jackass. That does not mean the process is economically viable.

  • Number.6||

    You can run a car on whisky itself. Which you have to concede - is pretty exotic.

    I want a grant to research using a 50/50 mix of IPA+Cask-strength-single-malt to run the engine in one of these.

  • Robert||

    Landfilling is recycling. It's returning matter to the earth, from which it came.

  • Robert||

    Bailey Sugar-Free-d the link to the current op-ed.

  • Mrs. Lemuel Struthers||

    Funny story somewhat related: My town recently decided to make garbage pick up more economical by replacing our old garbage trucks with new ones that have a robotic arm that picks up the can and tips it into the truck without human assistance. Where previously two garbage men were needed - one to drive and the other hanging off the back of the truck and dumping the bins - now we're supposed to only have a driver and a robotic arm. In additional to the costly replacement of the trucks, they needed to purchase and provide a new taller garbage can with a special lid.

    Our street, and many streets in our neighborhood, is narrow with large trees along the roadside and hanging over the street itself. You can see what's coming, right? The roads are too narrow for the robotic arm to move without hitting either a parked car, a power line, or a tree. So now we have new trucks, new garbage cans - and two garbage guys because the arm isn't operable.

    My Jersey tax dollars at work.

  • Rhywun||

    I thought it was going to end with fat protection payments made to the redundant garbage men. The reality is more humorous.

  • ||

    And some equipment dealer got big bucks for those new robot armed garbage trucks. And I bet the dealer was well connected.

  • Robert||

    Oh. I was imagining a garbage truck doing a chin-up via its robot arm on an overhanging limb, and then spilling its load all over the street.

  • GILMORE™||

    OT =

    I didn't even know this moron was talking about Weed for about 5 minutes.

    I have made a point to never associate with these types of personalities. For their safety.

  • SamDod598||

    That actually makes a lot of sense dud.e

    www.Full-Anon.tk

  • ||

    Wow. Seattle rummages through garbage?

    Literal piece of shits are they?

    I more often than not just throw stuff that should be recycled away. I do this knowing full well the time is coming where we too will have asshole inspectors going through my garbage.

    Unreal.

  • ||

    And unless they provide me with a locking bin with a lock to which only the trash guys and I have the key, I'm not liable for anything that ends up in my trashcan.

  • OldMexican||

    its survival [recycling] depends on continual subsidies, sermons and policing.


    Ergo: It is a religion.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Don't recycle nazis in Europe turn in their neighbors for putting things in the wrong bin?

  • ||

    "Look, for the last time. Only the ones with the yellow recyclable star go in the railcar. Got it?"

  • ||

    OMG, that's brilliant. Sappy, I really like you.

  • Robert||

    You should win the entire Internet for that.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    from those Eco crazies at Fortune

    Time Magazine for "businesspeople". I'm convinced.

  • ||

    City of Virginia Beach has a municipal park named Mt. Trashmore. Guess what it used to be? Also, in googling that it appears other municipalities have stolen the concept and the name.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Criticizing recycling on nutritional grounds is like criticizing communion wafers on nutritional grounds.

    Its religious service to the progressive theocracy.

    Obey, kneel, and worship.

  • PatrickPayton||

    I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h… Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link... Try it, you won't regret it!......

    www.HomeJobs90.Com

  • geo||

    Please don't tell the econazis or the Mayor that electrons can be recycled too. And please don't tell them that photons can also be recycled by electrons. I'll be forced to recycle all the light in my house along with all the electrons I waste posting on the internet.

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