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Re-cycling Dilemma

This story from today's Washington Post is quite disturbing in its implications that will stretch well beyond Maryland, the US generally and the rest of the world where re-cycling has become well entrenched, as it has here on the Coromandel.

It was always a risk that well-intentioned efforts to control the waste flow through these interventions would evolve in ways that could not possibly has been anticipated,

The change in the Chinese economy that has led to the shut-down of paper re-cycling plants in that country has world-wide implications because these were the main target of re-cyclers wishing to dispose of mountains of paper and cardboard. On the other hand, the economics of glass re-cycling have changed quite dramatically with the result that less and less percentages of glass are going back into the furnace. 

Blown polymer - i.e milk & Coke bottles being the main example, are proving harder and harder to handle with end purchasers becoming more choosy in regard to residual content. In fact, this is clearly becoming a problem over the entire range of products - witness from the story the Chinese inspector at the Maryland plant rejecting bales of paper with more than five foreign items protruding, and thus requiring substantial and costly re-baling. 

Note also the cost structure that has developed recently where it is cheaper to consign entire pick-ups to landfill rather than even enter the sorting process. And note also the problems arising from the far higher percentage of home delivered cartoned products (thank you Amazon and Trade-me!) where householders are simply placing unbroken-down cartons in the 'blue' (US!) recycling box, and with other dubious items within the unbroken cartons. This has led to an increase in the size of the 'blue' boxes with additional costs incurred by the re-cyclers. Surely re-education would have been cheaper, but possibly futile!

The situation needs to be very closely controlled, as I am sure is the case here where there appears to be a good working relationship between the Council and Smart Environmental. But if there is a follow-on effect here (and there appears no reason why there won't be) then we can expect an approach sooner or later from Graham Christian (Smart's) to 'rebalance' the arrangement - his contract may already allow this, and the end result could well be that we end up having to pay far more than we do currently for the privaledge of having our rubbish re-cycled. 

Just another concern to add to all the others relating to the clogging-up of the planet!




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Reader Comments (1)

I guess the cycle for re-cycling continues to go around.
This region missed an excellent opportunity to have the [disused] Meremere power station converted to a rubbish incineration plant that would take care of the regions waste, intended for landfill, by burning - this sometime around 2000. The proposal was floated by an American Company, Olivine [I think]. I don't recall the specifics of the debate but it didn't get through the consenting process with Environment Waikato. No doubt environmentalists would have been up in arms thinking about toxic emissions spewing out of the chimney (sound familiar - think Thames), but the argument, by Olivine anyway, was that their process was to be far less harmful than landfill. Modern incineration has potential for minimal emissions and would be an excellent alternative to land-fill I would have thought.
Whatever, it does seem time to seriously reconsider all waste disposal options, the more so if re-cycling is not [soon to be-financially] sustainable.

June 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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