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Thursday
Oct152015

Further Doubt About Re-cycling

The NY Times Sunday Review has an excellent article by John Tierney drawing attention to the doubtful economics of re-cycling now highlighted by the CEO of the largest recyling company in the US - Waste Management.

Readers may recall some concerns that I raised in my earlier post about the Kopu Recycling Plant run by Smart Environmental - one of Waste Management's competitors here in NZ, and in an earlier Washinton Post article.

The article speaks for itself, identifying paper, cardboard, and aluminum cans as the only, yes the only items that are carbon negative in the process - everything else is either neutral (glass bottles) or positive in terms of the carbon gas savings that are possible to make. 

In other words, recycling has become a giant con in John Tierney's view - one that we have bought into 'holus bolus' without adequate investigation of the costs. This applies particularly to plastic bottles that are washed with hot water water (as suggested!) The footprint addition of this process is particularly costly. 

Tierney points out that NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, is determined to have New York (along with San Francisco and Seattle  amongst others) in a Zero Waste situation by 2030 - a wonderful aspirational target, and a great vote getter, but it really does appear to be a total nonsense. No city on the Eastern Seaboard wants a composter for all the half eaten pizzas anywhere near, so that alone provides a real problem.  

But according to public officials, it is really only defensible as a moral imperative, not a cost-benefit, or necessarily a 'save the earth' objective. Well that is the way it has been sold, and it is that which enables us to sit back and feel at ease about what is happening. 

Well not so fast, recycling is indeed a cost in every way, and although it is out of sight, it should not be out of mind - we should be ready to evaluate our own schemes before they progress further and begin to really impact rates with no discernible benefit on the carbon front. It is simply not defensible if all it does is enrich those who handle the stuff on our behalf - if it has no carbon, or financial advantage, it should surely be in the landfill. 

Just sayin'

 

 

 

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