I remember once talking to a guy who ran the recycling center way out on the east side of Plano, and asked him whether it was worth it.
“Other than cans and newsprint, no,” was his reply.
Turns out that aluminum cans are actually worth recycling — in that they are 100% recyclable (requiring nothing other than melting and reformulating) and it costs less — much less — to recycle than to produce new aluminum.
That’s almost true of newsprint too, except that while pulping it is fine — hardly any energy is used for that — the pulp also has to be bleached, and in the pulping / bleaching process, about 15% of the original paper is lost. And as raw paper production (i.e. from logged wood) has become more efficient over the years, and as trees can be grown to replace those felled, the only real benefit from recycling paper is that overall paper production is less vulnerable to hiccups in supply of fresh wood — such as caused by forest fires, disease and drought.
And, he added, when it comes to recycling other stuff, glass is little better than plastic — which surprised me, but it actually costs much more to recycle glass than simply to produce it new. And the old “plastic into park benches” spiel is likewise stupid, because it costs so much to produce such stuff, and creates so much atmospheric pollution thereby, that it’s easier just to toss plastic into a properly-lined landfill and let nature take its course.
Knowing all that, I’ve always been skeptical of the benefits of recycling — it’s always been about feeewings rather than utility — so this article came as little surprise to me. And as for this statement:
Roughly 90 percent of all plastic found in the oceans, says the Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, is carried there by “the top 10 rivers with the highest loads” of plastic debris. Eight of those rivers are in Asia, two are in Africa. None are in the U.S.
…well, I do believe I’ve talked about that before. And yes, calling recycling “America’s False Religion” is correct.
The unpleasant fact about pollution is that it’s not a First World malfeasance. Almost all the world’s pollution, whether airborne, terrestrial and especially maritime, is caused by Third World countries because they’re fucking retarded. And I see no reason why we should pick up their slack, either.
Frankly, if the civilized world wants to do something concrete about waste disposal, we should stop selling it to Third World countries, and dump the stuff in the streets of New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where it would scarcely be noticed.
Just a thought.