Bullshit Then, Bullshit Now

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.


  1. ALL recycling must start at the manufacturing level – specifically, packaging.
    It’s appalling the amount of “stuff” that must be thrown away just upon opening new stuff that has been purchased. Just guessing, packaging costs 10% or more of the total product cost. The less stuff not needed, the less stuff needing recycled.

    The reason recycling is so expensive?
    It starts with a “g” and ends with a “t” and has regulations and taxation all over the middle. The US gov’t is destroying everything, worldwide.

  2. The most-recycled material in the US is… asphalt.

    Something like 95% of all of the asphalt torn up from old roads becomes asphalt for new roads.

    1. Just google “plastic roads” to see how the usual suspects aim to screw that up, or in some cases just get rich, quick, fleecing ill-informed crowdfunding backers (and/or taxpayers).

  3. And they have screwed up aluminum recycling by ripping off the consumer. You used to be able to take a bag of squashed cans to the store and get money for it. Now either the government steals the money or you take it to one of the big bins and Walmart or some other corporation steals it. Too much trouble for no return.

  4. Penn and Teller’s series “Bullshit!” covered this one very well. Can’t find the full episode online anymore, worth watching if you can find it. Don’t mince words at all on the level of idiocy involving all recycling plans.

    1. Paladin3001,

      Penn and Teller’s series Bullshit is available on HULU. The episode is season 2, episode 5.
      I have HULU because it is only 5$ per month and I get that much use from it.

      Here in my small city in Michigan, we had one huge employer, after all the foundries left, and that was a paper mill. They employed over a thousand people, including my father in law, at one time. They were bought by Scott Paper , and then Kimberly Clark. Eventually a firm from South Africa bought them. They quit buying pulp wood from the many small lumberjacks who usually worked with perhaps 3 or 5 men, selling loads of pine to them. The instead, they bought already shredded pulp from Canada and overseas, and got rid of their entire pulping operation. The smell on the lake was much nicer, but hundreds of families lost their income.
      Of course, you know the next step. The company shut the entire operation down, putting hundreds more lost their jobs, which were among the higher paying in the area. The entire place including huge smoke stacks, is all gone, and on the lake now is going to be expensive condos and houses for the rich, who most likely will often only use the places in the summer time, to vacation and play with the rich people’s toys on the beautiful lakefront and our Great Lake, Lake Michigan, to which it connects.

  5. I don’t agree that 3rd world countries don’t recycle because they’re “retarded.” It’s just not a priority for them.

    Starvation, war, and getting eaten by crocodiles or lions (vis your other two articles 😉 ) are of more immediate concern to 3rd worlders. “Saving” the planet so a bunch of wealthy first worlders can enjoy Instagram-worthy “here I am in the jungle” selfies is pretty far down on their list.

    1. i must respectfully disagree. if you look up average iq by country, then you will see that by definition, most of these third world shitholes are populated by retards.

  6. you know what bugs me? give me cheap enough energy and i’d turn every dump into gold mines.

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