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  • Last modified 176 days ago (June 4, 2020)

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Throw away most ideas about recycling

Like old trash that just won’t get picked up, recycling keeps coming back on us as a costly venture not nearly as environmentally friendly as believed by those indoctrinated to support it with near-religious fervor.

No one is making money on it — except, perhaps, the companies that prey on guilty consciences by claiming to take our garbage and turn it into something useful.

Truth be known, many supposed recycling operations don’t actually recycle much of what’s sent to them. Many of the things we caringly place in blue bins end up savagely bulldozed into landfills because the cost to recycle them is dramatically higher than the cost to bury them.

We may feel good because we used special containers with nifty circular-arrow logos on them, but image — not substance — is the only thing we can take comfort in.

County commissioners heard Monday that cardboard is the only recyclable item making money locally. We suspect aluminum cans do, too, but the apparently highly pedigreed environmental engineers who serve on the commission seem to think otherwise.

When you toss anything else into your bin, what you’re actually tossing in is a hefty chunk of change from your sales and property taxes.

Not only does the recycling center that used to pay us for our recyclables now charge us to accept the material. The county and its cities also have to pay huge labor and transportation costs, all the while leaving a Godzilla-sized carbon footprint created by all the fossil fuels needed to haul recyclables all over everywhere.

The supposed fact that the nation is running out of landfill capacity has been debunked and pulverized like so much waste paper.

We aren’t saving the Amazon rain forest by recycling paper we get in the mail. Trees for paper are as crops. Bigger crops of trees actually are better for the environment than the chemical processes needed to reclaim office paper, which without herculean recycling quickly degrades into harmless cellulose like most other plant-based matter.

Instead of indulging in the fantasy that we’re saving the environment by recycling — when, in fact, most recycling creates more environmental problems than it resolves — let’s accept that it’s a business proposition and start recycling only those items it is economical to recycle.

Maybe we could have cardboard pickup one week, aluminum pickup the next, glass the week after that, and so forth. Separating recyclables is a huge part of the cost of recycling. If we can do that on our own, we might actually start making money on this.

If you really want to save the environment, stop using so many things created out of petroleum-based plastics and stop driving at getting deliveries when you could be shopping locally.

We can’t use government to penalize those anti-social people who won’t shop at home, but we can start charging extra to pick up trash that can’t economically be recycled and use that as incentive to encourage people to consume more responsibly.

Charging extra for all recycling is backward thinking. But backward seems to be the path of a lot of thinking about trash these days, particularly in the City of Marion, where crews of three visit residences twice a week to pick up the same amount of garbage that almost every other place in the world picks up with crews of one, visiting just once a week.

The main thing we’re recycling right now is taxpayer money. It’s being diverted not from landfills but to recycling companies, petroleum producers, and featherbedded government payrolls.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified June 4, 2020

 

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