Feb 10, 2007

An Advocate for NOT Recycling

I don't recycle.

I'm sorry.

In fact, I am a staunch supporter of those who do not recycle.

I am also an advocate for reducing waste in this country, which, I think, is the bigger problem. In another paradoxical statement, I also consider myself an environmentalist. Ha! Isn't that crazy?

Recycling is a bane to the American people's existence, and I just don't see myself doing it in the near future. The truth is, recycling costs taxpayers money and it pollutes the Earth.

What? Yeah, it's true. Well, at least it's true with paper. Paper mills that recycle create more air pollution than mills that just create paper originally.

And so on.

I know it sounds crazy and that I'm really insensitive, but - sadly - it's the truth. I've been researching this issue for quite some time now, and, though it sounds backwards, I'm confident in what I believe.

On January 1, placing more than 10 percent recyclable materials into a garbage bin became illegal in Seattle. An offending bin is tagged with a bright yellow slip that announces, "Recycle. It's not garbage anymore." The un-emptied bin is then left at the curb in hopes that the homeowner will learn the lesson and remove the reusable material by next week's collection. Businesses that offend three times are fined $50.

he truth, though, is that recycling is an expense, not a savings, for a city. "Every community recycling program in America today costs more than the revenue it generates," says Dr. Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute.

A telling indicator is that cities often try to dump recycling programs when budgets are tight. As Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, points out in the Wall Street Journal, every New York City mayor has attempted to stop the city's recycling program since it was begun in 1989. Mayor David Dinkins tried, but changed his mind when met with noisy criticism. Rudy Giuliani tried, but was sued by the Natural Resources Defense Council, which won the case. Mayor Bloomberg has proposed temporarily ending the recycling program because, as Logomasini notes, it costs $240 per ton to recycle and only $130 per ton to send the material to a landfill. The numbers for other areas are roughly comparable. The net per-ton cost of recycling exceeds $180 in Rhode Island, while conventional garbage collection and disposal costs $120 to $160 per ton.

You can also read John Tierney's article 'Recycling is Garbage' by clicking here.

Tell me what you think. I'll be blogging about this more later, as it has engulfed me.


  1. I think it is a complicated issue. I just spent 20 minutes sorting my recycling at the center in 1 degree temps, so you can tell where I stand. I do think a lot about this (mainly as I have to defend my recycling to my roommate who hates having the bins in the basement).

    But to quote JT "Franklin and other researchers have concluded that recycling does at least save energy - the extra fuel burned while picking up recyclables is more than offset by the energy savings from manufacturing less virgin paper, glass and metal."

    To me, that is the crux of it. And the difference between me and the Libertarian think tanks so oft quoted in that article is that I think that even if there is a net cost of recycling, that service should be provided by the government (or some other entity that steps in if they figure out how to make a profit). I don't agree with forcing people to recycle, but I also think we should have that option to do so. I actually really like the pay-as-you-throw ideas talked about there and would love to see that implemented more often because like the article says - people might choose to reduce or reuse, which are steps up from recycling.

  2. Okay, so I might have overstated my case a little. I'm not opposed to recycling, but I just had to point out how wasteful it can be. Danielle has all but set me straight, as you can see, and I know it's a sensitive issue.

  3. RYC, there was no offense taken - I think it is an interesting discussion. I don't think that the answer is black and white. In the meantime, I choose to err on the side of recycling. You can choose to err on the side of not recycling. At least you have obviously thought about it, as opposed to people who will spout off the anti-recycling message because they don't want to feel like bad people because they don't want to recycle and wouldn't even if the evidence was clear.

  4. duly noted, although sometimes I feel as though I come off a little garrish and angry in the posts, and I didn't want that to happen here. I wasn't, like, calling you a tree-hugging hippie or anything! I actually am a conservationist of sorts, too.