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Monday, January 9. 2012
Have you ever bothered to see what happens to your town's recycling? Those bins and things you put out there - where do they go? And are you charged for this extra effort of yours?
In my home town, we have to lug cardboard to the
For all of this self-applauding virtuously annoying pleasure, my most recent research reveals that ours all goes to a landfill in upstate New York, some is trucked to West Virginia to be dumped in a swamp or something, and some is burned by a subsidized power plant. There is no market for this "garbage" other than the marketplace for meaningless virtue. Glass, plastic, and newspaper, for starters, are far cheaper to make new than to recycle. Who is making money from this scam which makes naive soccer moms feel better about themselves?
Do me a favor and find out the facts about your local recycling - where does it all finally end up, and whether you pay extra for the privilege. Let us know. I think there's a news story in it.
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This year we were told we needed to pay extra for the recycling pick up. It was optional, so we declined, because I have read other stories like yours, where the separated materials were simply added to the same landfill.
Right now we take paper and cardboard to the nearby school which has special dumpsters to them. We do this when going someplace else, as it would otherwise waste our gasoline (and reduce any possible value of recycling.)
The others I have left comingled and taken to work (once so far). We have recycling bins there, and I hope it's put to use, but I'm unsure.
Frankly, taking it to a centralized location, like a landfill, where it one day may be mined, might be the best use of resources.
What gripes me about the recycling fetish is the way my HOA pats itself on the back in the house organ every month about how much the community has recycled. It's all about feeling superior for all the greeniness. If the HOA actually gave a damn about conservation they would allow for air-drying clothes on clotheslines. But no, we wouldn't want the aesthetics to be ruined to save some actual energy now would we.
Air-dry your clothes? You mistake the whole purpose of a HOA, which is to tamp down class anxiety and therefore anxiety about falling real estate prices. Pointless, empty recycling activity? Burnishes "green" reputation, very classy, worth another $10K on the listing price of your home, same as clipped lawns, approved home paint colors, and regulation fences. Air-drying? Stirs up fears of falling below the middle class and letting "that sort" break up the block.
Not only is it cheaper to make them new, but there is a continuing problem with hazardous waste generation from the recycling process of some things. It's a scam
I don't have a link, but a few years ago my local paper reported that due to weak or non-existent demand, the stuff we were recycling in my community was being dumped in a landfill. We are still required to separate paper, cans and bottles anyway, since it is the law to do so. Plus, the company who picked up this stuff had a long-term contract, and there were quite a few people employed to handle the recyclables who depended on their paychecks. The snake eating its tail, basically.
How do you tell trash from a resource?
Somebody will pay you for a resource.
We put everything in the garbage.
Here in Simsbury CT we are obliged to send our "refuse" to the state run regional operator of a waste to energy power plant and recycling service. I looked up both total garbage tonnage and recycling tonnage for our town over the last few years. Total garbage is declining steadily but recycling is also constant or declining (they've graciously allowed us to put more stuff in the recycling so I think it too is declining).
This decline is probably due to a steady decline in newspapers as well as a stagnant population and declining business load. Years ago when I worked on design of waste-to-energy plants I found out that the amount of newspapers and packaging varied a lot from rich to poor towns. I also found out how little energy there is in trash.
The only things worth recycling are aluminum cans and large steel scrap. Plastics and glass are harmless items in a engineered landfill. Give it another 5 years and it will be gone completely.
For several years, our city (deepest south) had a voluntary program where residents could separate recyclables, city sanitation would pick them up, then deliver them to a local school for the (ahem) mentally challenged. The school did the sorting, aggregating and selling, keeping all proceeds. It all shut down a couple of years ago because it was a losing proposition for the school. Sometimes we southerners get so far behind in one cycle that we end up leading the next.
Am on the road, but would like to contribute to this thread; hope you can keep it pen for a couple of weeks, at least.
I get a $7/month credit on my garbage pickup. There’s almost no verification or enforcement. I manage to put out some cardboard every month or two.
The only thing that make sense to recycle I choose not to leave out for my muni recycling. Alley trawlers come by on collection day before the city truck does and they steal all the metals. So I save my cans and give them to a private school for their fundraiser.
The reason so many liberals love Seattle is because of it's intense focus on "recycling". As a resident of that city one is required to separate paper from kitchen trash, cans from plastic and from paper and from kitchen trash. Of course, then one also has to deal with a separate place for glass. But, best of all you are only allowed 2 cans per household, plus your numerous little parcels of recycled materials,all of whose pick up you paid extra for in addition to your kitchen trash. Woops, I almost forgot the yard waste requirement. Ok, so during the 1990's and early 2000 like little frogs in gradually warming water all of this came upon us one step at a time. Then in 2008 or 9 a law was passed providing a nice cash reward for your neighbor, your garbage man, your ex-wife, or boyfriend. Anyone at all who happens to notice that you have mixed your trash and somehow continue to combine such articles that are not to be combined will be rewarded for reporting you to the proper authorities--A STEP TOO FAR from the same people who have given you the concept that the European Culture is no more valuable than the headhunters of Borneo. The same sexist government that changes the rules of ethics and protecting whistleblowers whenever the whistle is blown on their actions! The same group of people who have destroyed the Episcopal Church . . .
I agree with rhhardin, when they pay me for the stuff is when I will recycle. It is a scam.
The only thing thats really cost effective to recycle is paper and paper products.......and then only if there is a paper plant near enough to offset transportation cost. BTW most recycled paper is turned into brown paper. Some of it is used for wrapping paper..... The vast majority of it is used to make corrigated boxes. The rest of the stuff they want us to recycle is a waste of energy to recycle......ESPECIALLY aluminum cans.
You obviously know nothing about refining aluminum. In fact, aluminum is one of the few things that is worth recycling and recycled aluminum is a major energy-saver.
Who profits from your recycling efforts is a separate question, of course. But you can usually find a scrap dealer who'll pay for your aluminum, if you don't want to donate it to your municipality.
Aluminum is refined by electrolysis, a very energy-expensive method. See this article for details.
It says (my emphasis), "Recycling involves melting the scrap, a process that requires only 5% of the energy used to produce aluminium from ore, though a significant part (up to 15% of the input material) is lost as dross (ash-like oxide)."
jhc.......Notice I said "aluminum cans".......not aluminum. Aluminum cans these days are so thin that most of it ends up as dross. Doesnt melt......just ends up as ash. Now aluminum scrap..... thats a different story.
Link please? I call BS. Elemental aluminum cannot end up as ash.
I'm with foxmark: I'd like to see some evidence for the claim that cans end up as 'ash'. (I take you mean the 'ash-like oxide' mentioned in the Wikipedia article.)
For one thing, you'll have to explain why there's been a market for aluminum cans for years -- long before recycling became a public utility (or requirement) everywhere. I don't think the scrap dealers were paying for cans without having buyers for them. And those buyers were presumably getting more than ash out of the deal.
The Aluminum Association says that recycling cans (UBCs, as they call 'em) accounts for less than 30% (but greater > 25%, I take it) of recycled aluminum. The industry recycled over half a million tons of cans in 2006.
2006??? Ya'll might want to get up to date..... that was 5 years ago. Have you noticed how thin the soda pop cans are over the past 2 years. Any of you all been to an aluminum/ copper/ paper plant lately. I have. Yes soda pop cans are still recycled but at a huge loss....again most of the current cans end up as dross......just saying..... the new aluminum cans are a huge waste of energy transporting and and recycling them. The money is in the scrap aluminum and stuff like soup and canned meat products cans ....NOT the typical soda pop cans everyone collects.
My local metals place gave me significantly more per pound for aluminum cans than for cast and extruded stuff yesterday. My theory is that the ability to shred it makes handling and transport more efficient for them.
Greenpeace-type environmentalists are Totalitarian in thought, word and deed. They would glady rip up the Constitution, and hand over complete control to anyone who was going to "save the planet". Their movement is already in motion.
And when the grocery bagger asks me, "Paper or plastic?" I generally respond, "Whichever causes the greatest number of baby harp seals to be harvested." It's amazing how many people are truly shocked by my sarcastic comment. Most of them probably believe that paper bags are made of old growth Sequoias. They forget that plastic bags [actually being outlawed now in some California cities] were originally promoted by the enviros' themselves to 'save the Redwoods'.
Do you know why they ask you which one you want? It's because baggers can't be choosers.
I'm pretty sure that this was on Maggies last year (love it, less than two weeks ago and I airily refer to "last year").
Penn and Teller call Bullshit on Recycling.
Bloomington IN -- Our recycling program is pretty comprehensive, with fortnightly pickup of a great variety of plastics (1 through 7), glass, metals, paper and cardboard. We pay by the bag/bin for "regular" refuse by affixing a tag to each one we put out, so in theory the more we divert to the blue bins the less we pay for trash service.
From some 4-year old articles in the local progressive alternative rag (bloomingtonalternative.com), I've learned:
Cardboard is baled and sold by the town directly, the other mixed recyclables get trucked to Republic Services in Indianapolis where they are separated by a combination of automated and manual means. The glass then gets shipped to Strategic Materials in Chicago, where they claim 100% gets recycled into new products. The metals and paper get sold by Republic at a profit, the glass at a loss compared to their costs in trucking and sorting it. The town's costs at the time were $40 to $60 per ton for the various varieties of recyclable waste.
Now, even if you have to pay to have it hauled off, that makes economic sense if the price per ton that you pay is less than the cost of landfilling the same materials.
Also, the market for recyclables and metals is known as being volatile, so it may make sense to keep recylcing programs going during cycles when it is cheaper to landfill the stuff, because an on-again/off-again program would be confusing to residents and have lower participation rates.
Now this is all old news, and the town waste department is pretty mum about the fate of recyclables except to trumpet that the proceeds from the sale of cardboard goes toward some project to help local children. The contract costs cited in the article are for a contract that has long since ended.
I simply don't believe that "100%" of the glass is made into new products. The claim is not credible imo.
For those who claim that recycling is "profitable", are they arriving at that conclusion by forgetting to factor in taxpayer subsidies?
Like "green energy", how does it fare without taxpayer subsidies?
Remove ALL of those if you want an actual and factual evaluation of the viability of things.
Professors Mike Munger and Russ Roberts made similar points when they discussed this topic in 2007 on Professor Robert's excellent economics podcast, "EconTalk"
here's the link
Yep, I throw it all away. The municipal trucks used to carry a sorting crew on their rounds. They stopped pretending awhile ago; it all gets dumped into the top of the usual compacting truck now. Separate line charge on my city utilities bill, though. The Penn & Teller episode sealed it for me. Two years ago the city dropped off a shiny, new full size trash can for recyclables and picked up all the old small tubs. Like I wanted two full size trash cans behind my house. That thing sat at the end of my driveway for three weeks. It took seven calls before they finally came back for it. I'm glad they didn't ask for my old bin, I'd thrown it in the trash years ago. Nearly everyone here seems pretty clear on the notion if something has value, someone will pay for it. Or steal it.
We don't recycle, but our trash goes by the truckload to the city waste-to-energy plant, where it is cheaply and mechanically sorted, saving everyone the time and enormous expense to sort their refuse (except for greenwaste, which people are encouraged to keep separate for a different pickup, unless they compost the stuff). We also don't generate many glass drinking bottles in a month, but those that we do we leave out for the work crew of our homeowner's association to pick up and redeem for the extra cash.
First off, I deplore our throw-away mentality, and you should too. If you don't think this mentality is a serious issue, you are cruising along on a river in Egypt headed for a very large waterfall, and if your municipal waste gatherers are just tossing recyclables in the landfill, you need to get off your ass and take action. If you treated your farmland the way most people treat their waste stream,you would be up shit creek in very short order.
I may have a perspective many would denigrate or discount out of hand because I live in California and am a survivor of the hippie era of back-to-the-land conservatism and stewardship. I have been many times to our county landfill and seen the infrastructure that goes into separating recyclables from the landfill-bound unrecoverables. It is not inconsiderable and for anyone to imagine that we go to these extremes to then merely throw the recyclables back into the landfill is assinine and ludicrous. This, in spite of the fact that it is a drop in the bucket, though mainly due to slacker attitudes like many represented here. Many years ago, I realized that I, in fact, was THE recycling center, par excellance, (as are you) and nothing gets by me without a determination of whether it is reusable, recyclable or reducable before I "throw it away". There is nothing "liberal" about responsible stewardship, and we had damn well better get straight on one of our primary directives before we disregard and abdicate one of the most salient issues of our era to the "environmentalist" progressives. Ever think about the root meaning of "conservative"?
To every cause there comes a zealot. In a way, Extreme Environmentalism begins to resemble radical Islam. Tomorrow I shall begin my morning prayers by bowing in the direction of my local landfill.
Our muni recycling is thru a fed grant, which I consider a waste of $. We have to drive to put it in one of several deposits. Taxpayers here refused to fund door-to-door pickup via added taxes.
We take our newspapers to the animal pound, and they're grateful for them. I used to brag that I had 30-year-old cloth grocery bags but threw them all away when I learned they were prob a cesspool of germs.
I live in E Kentucky and we have a mini industry in burying trash in hills from places like NJ -no jokes please- so what are the odds our recycling is being used?
What's really interesting is that none of this is "recycling" - rather, it's "sorting", an activity that one time was carried out further upstream by those looking to make actual profits from the refuse stream.
Thankfully we no longer need profitable businesses now that refuse stream is perfectly controlled by government agencies that do such a superior job....
(last part is a joke, son)
In Indianapolis, we pay $6 a month for a twice monthly bin pickup. The bin is mixed items, so we throw all relevant items into the same bag inside, and then into the bin for transport to the curb, and collection. Republic Services claims to sort and recylce the paper, glass and aluminum. On the commercial side, they actually pay for the bulk material, such as bales of paper and boxes from a warehouse. The homeowners are voluntarily paying to feel good about themselvees. I did it because my teenagers kept harping on me, and $6 a month was hush money.
RHHardin (#5) has it exactly correct.
The ONLY household material which actually pays for itself to recycle is aluminum. The rest of the materials, including glass, either cost more to sort-and-transport or are unusable in any ordinary sense.
The Soviet Socialist City in which we live has decreed that recycling is "good", and should therefore be subsidized. Households get a $7/month credit for putting out a recycling bin every other week.
What would be hysterically funny (if I weren't paying for it through my property taxes) is that we get the free-lance alley scroungers, who pick up all of the large steel scrap on an ad-hoc basis. Got something big, ugly and heavy that the city won't pick up without an extra fee? Put it on the alley line with a sign saying "Free", and it's gone; sometimes in a few days, sometimes on the same day.
Even funnier is the free-market of recycling. The ONLY thing that the recycling-thieves take are the aluminum cans. It was so cutting into the city's revenue that a law was passed making it illegal for the free-lance scavengers to pick up aluminum set out for recycling.
As for "Mark" (#19), why would you advocate that people perform activities which make them "feel" good while actually being a net negative for the environment? If a recycling activity requires a subsidy, that's a good indicator that it's absorbing MORE resources than it's conserving. But for enviro-whackos it's all about feeling rather than harsh reality.
It's sort of funny to see people around here to wash and separate different colors of glass bottles then haul them to the other side of town. The city dumps them into a big machine and turns it into a multicolored sand and hauls it back across town to the dump.
Throw it all away, let god sort it out.
There is no recycling here. We pay a fee for our garbage to be picked up by a private company once a week. There's room in our big can for all our weekly trash (which is why we don't pay for two cans), but we voluntarily separate out anything compostable, because we never let any useful organics leave the property if we can help it. That's where good dirt comes from! The trashcan is for plastic, glass, styrofoam, metal, etc. Food waste goes into a separate trashcan in the kitchen, and then, along with all plant trimmings, into the compost bins.
I live in the Northwest. It is common to see 18 wheelers carrying bales of cardboard from somewhere east of Idaho all the way to Portland Oregon to be recycled. I do not know the value of a load of cardboard nor do I know what "energy" is saved in the process of recycling it. But I suspect it pales in comparison to the cost in energy and labor to transport it those 600-800 miles.
I live in suburban Salt Lake. Here we get two containers, a blue one for recycle and a black on for the rest. Blue recycle includes paper/cardboard, plastics, and metals. Black trash bin for everything else. Cost for both bins is about $12/month.
There are also glass recycling bins in several locations around town for voluntary glass recycling, separated between brown glass and clear/green glass. Once a year they bring around a large dumpster to toss in anything large with a few exceptions like tires, concrete, and hazardous waste.
The county's website claims that all the recycle material gets reused, but provides no details about where and how. They also encourage composting of yard waste rather than putting it in trash.
I hear in Texas they are recycling cardboard boxes by grinding them up for cattle feed. That was a Texas sized drought!
I copied this from a friend...
Checking out at the supermarket recently, the young cashier suggested I should bring my own carrier bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment. I apologised and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days." The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."
She was right about one thing -- our generation didn't have the green thing in “Our” day.
So what did we have back then…? After some reflection and soul-searching on "Our" day here's what I remembered we did have.... Back then, we returned milk bottles, fizzy pop bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles repeatedly. So they really were recycled.
But we didn't have the green thing back in our day. We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator or lift in every store and office building. We walked to the supermarket and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two minutes up the road. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of England. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used screwed up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?
Carrier bags carry more than just groceries. They are "carriers" of all sort of unhealthy "bugs" if you don't wash them regularly, which few people seem to do. A lot of the throw-away things I use today (without much guilt, I will say) are a lot safer for my health than the reusable things they replaced.
I like plastic shopping bags because the front door of my house is up a flight of more than 60 stairs from my carport. When I arrive home from grocery shopping, I string 5 plastic bags full of groceries on each arm and I trudge up the stairs. This includes a gallon of milk on each arm. I can't see doing that with paper bags, or even cloth bags which would add more weight but no more strength than the almost infinitely strong, REUSABLE plastic bags that I continually recycle. Plastic...it makes my life so much more, well, livable.
--blessed and cursed to live in the wide open semi-desert spaces, i just burn it all --dig backhoe holes (bury and return to surface appearance the full one and dig an adjacent every few years or so) on a scrub pasture corner.
And so, for a fact, i can report, aluminum cans with reasonably high heat now reduce almost completely to ash.
The same issues apply to the recycling of spent nuclear fuel rods.
The current law incentizes nuke owners to run a "once-through" fuel cycle and prohibits recycling of the valuable uranium and plutonium and other isotopes in spent fuel. Why? There is a small fee charged to end-users of electricity from nukes that is passed through to the US government's "Nuclear Waste Trust Fund." It's bogus, of course, the money going into the Treasury.
With the Obama Administration effectively stopping our single waste repository project, Yucca Mountain, we have neither recycling nor responsible disposal.