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.