On Friday, Investor’s Business Daily posted an editorial about recycling. Most American communities have made provisions to recycle items rather than just dump them in the landfill, but evidently things are not always what they seem. China used to take about one third of America’s recycled material, but China has put strict rules on what it will accept–generally refusing most of our recycled material. This has resulted in many recycling companies dumping recyclables into landfills. So all of our sorting efforts are for naught.
The editorial reports:
But this isn’t even the worst of it. As John Tierney explained in an exhaustive analysis of recycling programs, also published by the New York Times, recycling is not only costly, but doesn’t do much to help the environment.
The claim that recycling is essential to avoid running out of landfill space is hogwash, since all the stuff Americans throw away for the next 1,000 years would fit into “one-tenth of 1% of land available for grazing,” Tierney says.
Other environmental benefits, he finds, are negligible, and come at an exceedingly high price. Tierney notes, for example, that washing plastics before recycling them, as is the recommended practice, could end up adding to greenhouse gas emissions. And the extra trucks and processing facilities produce CO2 as well.
Since it costs far more to recycle trash than to bury it, governments are wasting money that could be more effectively spent elsewhere.
We need to find a way to convert waste into energy without pollution. That might be a pipe dream, but it is a worthwhile goal.