RNS Quote of the Day: 08/08/07

MYTH 7: RECYCLING SAVES RESOURCES

It is widely claimed that recycling “saves resources.” Proponents usually focus on savings of a specific resource, or they single out particularly successful examples such as the recycling of aluminum cans.

But using less of one resource generally means using more of other resources. Franklin Associates, a firm that consults on behalf of the EPA, has compared the costs per ton of handling rubbish through three methods: disposal into landfills (but with a voluntary drop-off or buy-back recycling program), a baseline curbside recycling program, and an extensive curbside recycling program.

On average, extensive recycling is 35 percent more costly than conventional disposal, and basic curbside recycling is 55 percent more costly than conventional disposal. That is, curbside recycling uses far more resources. As one expert puts it, adding curbside recycling is “like moving from once-a-week garbage collection to twice a week”.

Since I covered the costs to pick up recyclables at the curbside yesterday, I’d like to zoom in on the eco-socialists’ focus on the recycling of aluminum cans.

To gather the aluminum to make an aluminum can, you have to mine, haul, smelt, haul, refine and then manufacture before you can fill it. To do the same thing with a recycled can, you can cut out the mining part, saving approximately 15% of the cost of manufacturing one from scratch.

And that is why, before the big recycling push in the mid-90’s, people would actually get money for their aluminum cans. It is cheaper to make an aluminum can, or engine block, out of aluminum that is recycled than it is to dig it out of the ground and then produce your product.

Same thing goes for just about any metal you can think of (tin, copper, etc).

The reason no one was paying people for cardboard or newspaper or plastic bottles before the big recycling crunch is because it was cheaper to do so from virgin materials. Take a walk down memory lane and remember what recyclers were paying for before 1990 and that will tell you what is a net monetary and manpower gain and what is a loss.

The market will rule unmercifully. Well, it is unmerciful to the eco-socialists anyway.

And yes, deposit rebates on bottles and the like is a construct of social engineering. Unless you’re out there digging in dumpsters, you aren’t making any money other than that which you already spent, so they’re not even actually paying you for it.

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3 Responses to RNS Quote of the Day: 08/08/07

  1. Linoge says:

    Heh, I would actually wager that Kalifornistan makes money off their “CRV” system… The “deposit” (read: “tax”) is unavoidable at the cash register – it is just added automatically when you purchase something applicable. And unless you return 100% of the cans/bottles/jugs you purchase, you are not even going to come close to getting your money back… And Kalifornistan gets whatever is left over. Of course, the system is made even more racket-ish by the presence of the reycling center drop-off stations, which are privately owned and run, adding yet another layer of cost to an already unbalanced system.

    The sad thing is how happy people were at the recycling center I went to once, after getting their money back from the state. Kind of reminded me about how people are with tax “refunds” really…

  2. Christopher says:

    Linoge,

    Untill recently it was impossible to retrive all of your money. CRV stands for cash rebate value ( or some crap like that) and while it is still five cents per container, the max you could get back was 3.2 cents Of course that is what the state pays the recyclers, not poor sucker joe public. That is why I only deal in kegs now. Not quite fair, unlike MI which has a 10 cent deposit, ten in ten back. Not that when I knew I was going into MI would I bring my non deposit cans and clean up a small fourtune, because that would have been wrong. (well I did only do it once, but I id make a tidy sum)

  3. Linoge says:

    I tried to do the math once concerning how much you pay, and how much you get back, and my head got sufficiently wrapped around itself that I just gave up. The problem with Kalifornistan’s system is that you pay the state based on the number of cans or bottles you purchase, but then the state (by way of the recycling centers, which take their own cut, of course) pays you based on the poundage you bring back. Talk about unnecessarily muddying the waters.

    I am actually vaguely considering making monthly runs over to Arizona and stocking up on everything I need can- and bottle-wise for the next month, and then coming back… The costs in gas would be worth it to just thumb my nose at the Kalifornistan idiocy, and probably would not be that much steeper than the CRV deposit.

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