A Bad Reason To Recycle

If you’re like most Americans, you engage in a particular, politically-correct behavior week after week: You dutifully trundle out your recycle bins in the belief that you are helping to “save the planet.” You’re not completely wrong. Recycling is not, in and of itself, a pointless exercise. In some cases – aluminum is the best example – recycling actually makes economic and therefore societal sense. But, for many Americans, it’s vitally important to recycle because “we are running out of landfill space.” Is this true? Let’s take a closer look.

Before we begin, we’ll acknowledge that the landfill argument is not the only logic that environmental activists use to encourage recycling. Claims that recycling preserves precious natural resources; helps to save energy; and reduces water and air pollution are also common. Like most of the claims the greens make, there is a grain of truth to each of these statements, surrounded by a whole lot of hyperbole. We won’t deal with any of these other claims in this column, so that we can focus on the image that resonates so powerfully: that of landfills, full to the brim, taking over the beleaguered American landscape.

In one sense, it might appear that we are indeed running out of landfill space. The number of landfills in the United States has steadily declined over the past thirty years, from about 8,000 in the 80s to a little over 2,000 today. However, this figure is deceptive, since landfills have gotten bigger. We have moved from small landfills, located close to urban areas, to so-called “mega-fills,” situated far in the country.

Consider one state’s experience. Outside of the crowded northeastern seaboard, where landfill space and fees have increased dramatically, this example is surely representative. The majority of garbage generated in the Chicagoland area travels about 100 miles to mega-fills in Pontiac, Dixon and in Newton County, Indiana. There are only two municipal waste local fills still operating in the Chicagoland metropolitan area, one in the southwest suburbs (Morris) and the other in the northern suburbs (Grayslake) They are mostly (but not exclusively) used by their owners.

The end result of this new strategy is that landfill capacity has not changed appreciably in Illinois over the last thirty years. In fact, it’s actually gone up according to Illinois EPA’s latest report. To look it at another way, while the number of landfills has been reduced by about one-fourth, the size of the average landfill is about four times bigger.

There is a certain logic to this system. It keeps trash away from residential areas, and avoids the traffic and odor problems associated with having a dump next door. Mega-fills are also better constructed than their older, smaller cousins. They feature extensive drainage collection systems, energy recovery systems and liners to prevent leakage. For the towns that choose to host them, the revenues that mega-fills bring in also are very attractive.

Skeptics may not be moved by such examples. How many landfills can we build before we’re living in our own filth, they will ask? That is an interesting question, one that takes a fair bit of research to track down. But, working with USEPA and industry statistics, we can figure out the percentage of land in the United States devoted to landfill use. Make your own guess, and we’ll get to the answer a bit later. First, let’s look at some other land uses.

The total land area of the United States is 2.3 billion acres. Of this, about 650 million acres (28.8 per cent) is forested. Another 586 million acres (25.9 per cent) is grassland pasture and range land. “Special uses” account for 525 million acres (23.3 per cent), and the vast majority of this land is natural; state and national parks, wilderness areas and wildlife refuges for the most part. Adding these three figures together, we see that about 78 percent of all the land in the United States is undeveloped. A further 442 million acres (19.5 per cent) is farmland. Adding farmland to the above figure, we can conclude that 97.5 percent of the nation is either undeveloped land, or used to grow crops. The remaining 2.5 per cent is urban area. It puts the word “sprawl” in a little different perspective, doesn’t it?

As a side note, the amount of crop land has decreased a bit since 1945 (from 451 million acres to 442 million), and the amount of range land has decreased a lot (from 659 million acres to 587 million). Still, the amount of forested land plus special use land (which must be counted together, since many forests have been reclassified as state and national parks since 1945, thus moving into the “special use” category) has shot up from 687 million acres in 1945 to over 884 million acres today. Those trees folks, in other words, are doing just fine.

But what about the landfills? Now that we have a bit of context, let’s answer the question. The total acreage devoted to landfill use in the United States is about 560,000 acres. That is about 0.02 percent of all the land in the nation. You could fit all of the landfills in the United States into a single, average-sized county, and still have room left over. There is about five times less land used for landfills than the total acreage devoted to golf courses in the US (approximately 2.5 million acres, or 0.1% of all land use). Plus, the life of an average landfill is about 50 years and, once closed, the land is reclaimed for other uses.

The idea that “we are running out of landfill space,” that the nation is turning into one big garbage dump, is ludicrous. Go ahead and recycle away. It’s certainly not harmful, but please don’t believe that it’s vital either. Like so many other environmental arguments, the claim that you are “saving the planet” by recycling is mostly garbage.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

    You irresponsible dick. I can't believe FPM is so invested in the Global Warming=Fraud narrative that you are underminging recycling!?! What is the matter with you fools?

    "The idea that “we are running out of landfill space,” that the nation is turning into one big garbage dump, is ludicrous."

    Who is making this argument except you so you can fight against it?

    "Go ahead and recycle away. It’s certainly not harmful, but please don’t believe that it’s vital either."

    Unbelievable….just unbelievable. Way to do you civic duty Rich. I await your next article about how beating your wife may not be that bad after all.

    • Wideband

      Typical. Can't rebut anything he says, so you throw an emotional fit.

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      Anyone who lived through the 80s knows this argument. I hate to sound like Dan Quayle, who by the way was one kick ass conservative, but there was a Murphy Brown episode about the very same thing. It is really what started recycling. Anyone remember using scissors to cut the plastic which holds 6 packs together to save the fish? Another friggin' fig leaf. That's all it is.

      Here we go, 10 points why not to recycle

      "1. Good For Our Economy
      American companies rely on recycling programs to provide the raw materials they need to make new products. "

      Take out the subsidies and watch the industry plummet. Next.

      "2. Creates Jobs
      Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide."

      Hitler, to an extent, created jobs. And once again, take away the subsidies, and you would probably have more jobs which really do something instead of literally pushing paper around. Next.

      "3. Reduces Waste
      The average American discards seven and a half pounds of garbage every day. Most of this garbage goes into to landfills, where it's compacted and buried. "

      Which really isn't a bad thing. Do you know there is bacteria which will eat away that garbage and you can turn all those ugly landfills into ski resorts? No. Really.

      "4. Good For The Environment
      Recycling requires far less energy, uses fewer natural resources, and keeps waste from piling up in landfills. "

      Where I live, they have to use two separate big garbage trucks. One for the recycling goods, and one for the real trash. How about we just lower the bar a little and try to do things like stopping littering? Forget sorting bottles and cans. There are some people in America who still cannot read. How are they to recycle? This really is trash science run a muck.

      "5. Saves Energy
      Recycling offers significant energy savings over manufacturing with virgin materials. (Manufacturing with recycled aluminum cans uses 95% less energy.) "

      And if you would burn that plastic and scrub the exhaust correctly, you would GENERATE energy. Can't do that. Thanks a lot Al Gore.

      "6. Preserves Landfill Space
      No one wants to live next door to a landfill. Recycling preserves existing landfill space. "
      That's about all recycling does. It envelopes a landfill in a big white building with big white fluorescent lights so politicians can look good inside the building in a suit among garbage.

      "7. Prevents Global Warming
      In 2000, recycling of solid waste prevented the release of 32.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE, the unit of measure for greenhouse gases) into the air. "

      Is that more or less the amount of carbon released by farm animals every year? And doesn't H2O vapor count as a "greenhouse" gas as well, spoken from the lips of Sage Gore?

      "8. Reduces Water Pollution
      Making goods from recycled materials generates far less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin materials. "

      Depends on the EPA auditor and the ethics of the plant. Next.

      "9. Protects Wildlife
      Using recycled materials reduces the need to damage forests, wetlands, rivers and other places essential to wildlife. "

      Who cares. Eat them. They want to die for humans to be eaten. Next.

      "10. Creates New Demand
      Recycling and buying recycled products creates demand for more recycled products, decreasing waste and helping our economy.2.5."

      Great. The vicious circle argument.

      Recycling is just another way the Leaders can get a bunch a brain dead dolts to punch a union ticket. End of story.

      • badaboo

        Sarcasm has its limitations stevie , and at some point it crosses the boundary into the cynical and ludicrous .Now dont get me wrong , it's not as if you just entered , you reside there . But believe it or not beyond the suckers and the politicians , are people that can actually think for themselves and do not need a political demagogue to figure out , that if we continue to pollute ,it's gonna come back and bite us . I think you've wasted too much time in front of the tv getting your daily dose of network pablum , c'mon "Murphy brown " ???Remember when you couldn't catch a fish in the lower Hudson River that wasn't toxic to eat ? Guess what Steve , people spoke up , some of those greenie .lefty comnmie rats , and sensible people listened , acted , and today you can eat a fish caught there . Oh and BTW , most recycling buisiness are not Union . , but you dont wanna be bothered , cynicism unlike sarcasm has no limits . End of your story

  • BS1977

    Whether you recycle or not…the fact remains, countless tons of plastics, styrofoam, cardboard, paper, trash, garbage and industrial wastes are accumulating in the biosphere….the plastics may never break down….and will eventually enter the water system, the soil and air as particulate poison. Humans are well on their way to irrevocably damaging, if not destroying our home planet…..See Manufactured Environments….an amazing film that shows what uncontrolled urbanization and industrialization has done to China and many other areas. It's not a pretty picture.

    • 2maxpower

      didn’t you just say that the plastic never breaks down ? and now you have it breakking down and poisoning everything.

      NO BODY IS ADVOCATING POLLUTION.

      get real and get better arguments

      • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

        particulate poison means it's broken down to a certain size, but will not come apart into naturally occuring components…chemically, this could be the size of molecules, but of a type that cannot be broken except in extreme conditions. These tiny particles can be poison for living things. Do you have little scrubbing particles in your shampoo? These are tiny beads of plastic that do not break down into anything. They are actually small enough to be consumed by plankton.

        You should try to understand someone's point for real before demanding "better arguments".

    • BS1960

      Let’s all commit mass suicide to save OUR HOME PLANET, BS 1977. You are the biggest moron ever to exist. What, are you like 12? Countless tons? OMG, can you not count? Fact check before you go off the deep end. Your “Manufatured Environments” are just that. manufacured, not reality, BS.

      • badaboo

        I guess you're either too young or too ignorant to remember Love Canal , oh and most likely the third option …too stupid .
        And ya can't fix stupid

  • Paul Neville

    New York recently estimated that if it abandoned recycling it could save 50 million dollars in public funds. Recycling is harmfull. It wastes vast amounts of public funds.

    • badaboo

      yea , and public funds are more important than clean drinking water

  • Samantha

    Two issues this post overlooks. 1) Regardless of whether we currently have adequate landfill space, land and fossil fuels are both finite resources. (Landfill land may be able to be reclaimed, but there are limits to the land reuse and also problems that arise from the landfill–and a landfill, once full, can't be used as a landfill again: finite). 2) Mega landfills further away from urban areas require more fossil fuel use to transport garbage further away. On the other hand, it currently takes fossil fuels to transform recyclables and as you point out, the economics aren't always favorable. Clearly, we should be recycling aluminum and to me it seems that we should be assessing the viability and feasibility of other recycling options. When it comes to plastics, however, our focus should shift away from recycle to REDUCE, and that's a far more difficult lifestyle change to get people to make, to say nothing of the fact that there are major industries that are hugely dependent on plastic–from those as trivial as fast food to those as non-trivial as healthcare.

  • donnamarie

    Wow, this was a very interesting article. I will probably always recycle-at least always try because I think it is better to reuse than just waste. Let's face it our society tends to waste a lot of stuff-my grandmother would not waste anything (she lived through the depression).
    As for the the size of this land-I have heard from pilot friends who fly back and forth across this country that our nation is basically uninhabited and now I see the numbers. Very interesting.

  • jbtrevor

    @bubba4
    The author's point was not to discourage recycling/reusing…his point was to not do it for the mislead reasons most Americans are guilted into. The unfortunate reality is the greens (avid environmentalists) grossly overstate their position that we're using up all the land for garbage – like the global warming alarmists, they do their cause no good by stretching/overstating a bit of truth.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

      I have not heard the argument that we are running out of landfill space. We can always find somewhere else to stash it….who is making this argument?

      Even casting a shadow of doubt on the legitimacy of recycling is beyond the pale. It's taken decades and decades of awareness programs, non-profits and governments to get people to JUST START TO RECYCLE A TINY BIT….that to sh*t on those efforts with whatever cultic jibberjabber you got is just disgusting.

      If you are recycling because someone is guilting you into it with fears of running out of land then you're an idiot.

  • badaboo

    FPM , you certainly DIMMINISH the credulity of your entire website , when you validate , by making such utter {RUBBISH ] such as the content of mr.Trzupek's , a topic starter . Now Mr .Trzupek certainly has every right to express his opinion , now matter how utterly ridiculous , but what does it say about this website when this view is validated in such a way .
    What is really gong on here ? Is it a anti-ANYTHING THAT'S not stamped with a C for conservative ? Is this in fact a "conservative " view ?
    Is it an ANTI-ANYTHING that comes from environmentalists , ya know the "tree-huggers " ?
    Man this is irresponsible , and unbelievable thinking on the part of Mr.Trzupek.
    It is purely, highly biased illogic and bad , bad science .This person is literally asking people to put their brains up on the shelf .

    Oh man , where are the aspirins !

  • http://www.closetheloop.com closetheloop

    A lot of us recycle, and that’s good, but we can’t stop there! To truly "close the loop", we need to:

    1) recycle our waste
    2) make something new out of it
    3) buy recycled.

    Recycling creates jobs, in PA, about 81,000 jobs in over 3,000 recycling and reuse busineses throughout the state. Support US manufacturers making products out of our waste materials (a valuable resource).

  • USMCSniper

    One of the most basic principles of economics is the principle of supply and demand. Stated simply, when the demand for a particular good or service is greater than the supply, the price that sellers can charge for that good or service increases. Conversely, when the supply of a particular good or service is greater than the demand, the price that sellers can charge decreases. So, what does this have to do with recycling? Everything. This principle describes exactly the situation with recyclables in general and polystyrene specifically. End-use markets are entities that purchase recycled as well as virgin materials from a number of sources and use these materials as feedstock to manufacture new products. Recyclable materials, therefore, compete for markets with virgin supplies of the same material. The opportunities for markets to use recycled material are often actually fewer than those for virgin material, due in part to lower performance characteristics of the recycled material because of contamination.

  • boston

    So Mr. Badaboo What exactly science says about recycling?If you read this article you could notice that Mr. Tzupek started it with phrase it is good recycle aluminum or icould add to it paper ,iron .. because it is reasonable thing to do, but to recicle for the sace of it only make no sence.In respect to jobs in recycling industry, if you remove goverment subsadies they will be out of business. Again it always better to be more efficient in how we use resources

  • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

    Hell. I will discourage recycling. It is nothing more than a fig leaf to make people feel good. People still dump recyclables into the garbage. The small localizes will just dump garbage into the landfill anyways.

    There are two major fault lines in this theoretical gang-green movement. Impulse control on the left is number one. Look at ELF. They will recycle, and then they will burn down a car lot which will really poison you.

    Technological stubbornness comes in at a close second. They like to pretend they are scientists, but they do not have the mind nor discipline to see their studies through. They want protests and revolution, not clean water, air or soil.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

      Next stop for eerie Steve….idiocracy.

  • badaboo

    Well , Mr .Boston , would you agree that everything on this planet is in FINITE supply ? So too space for landfill . Mr .Tzupek 's statement and argument is completely bogus , it's got a purely political agenda , the science it DOES contain are all unanimous GIVENS ….of course recycling aluminum is good just as recycling ANYTHING reusable is GOOD , since we do have only FINITE resources on the planet . So wherein does Tzupek's argument rest ? It is rather obvious to anyone who is cognizant and can read that he's ranting against not the idea of recycling , because he has no argument there . His argument is CLASSIC STRAWMAN , directed not at recycling but [only ] one of the reasons we do recycle …saving landspace , after all we havemillions and millions of acres ,so why conserve or even attempt to conserve ? – ergo any one who recycles is doing so FOR THE WRONG REASONS . So your question , Mr.Boston should be WHO is this statement directed to , and WHY .

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      No. That is a myth. Resources are not a finite supply and all empirical evidence has shown scientific causality will mandate a supply on a need only, not the reverse.

      There will always be uncharted ground on the Earth. If not the Earth, the universe. W. got blasted for trying to fix this problem with Mars exploration.

      • badaboo

        WHAT !!!???? back to your meds stevie .

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kwg1 kwg1

    I will post two articles links discussing recycling for those interested in additional information. Before you then reply that this is more propaganda of non environmentalist determined to poion the planet. Please bring factual evidence which disputes the article underlying factual premises. That might be a "breath of fresh air" to the discussion. Pun intended.

    http://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=2
    http://mises.org/daily/3887

  • Pete from CA

    Myth of landfill shortage:
    My county, located in the "congested" S.F. Bay Area claimed that the primary landfill (on the edge of the Bay) was nearly full. A new landfill was required. Almost immediately, 4 proposed new landfills were competing. The "competition" was that the local neighbors of each landfill didn't want it to be anywhere near them. The political problem was that the County elected officers were afraid to make a decision. There were no TECHNICAL problems with any of the proposed sites. There is PLENTY of landfill space available even in a relatively congested area. Eventually, the voters picked one (since the politicians punted the choice to the ballot).

    Most recycling is not currently economically effective. The cost of recycled materials used as feedstock are not competitive with virgin sources. Most of the recycled materials receive substantial subsidies, especially in the area of collection and sorting, that are frequently not counted in the total cost. We used to have a single truck collect the refuse; now we have two trucks (or the one truck passes through twice) to collect refuse and then recyclable materials. Then the stuff goes through a sorting facility — and yet, a significant portion of the recyclable materials go right into the landfill because there is no economic market for the stuff. All that extra cost, paid as user fees for refuse collection and paid as taxpayer subsidies for the operation of the sorting center, etc. And much of it ends up right back where it would have gone in the first place.

    Almost all recycling is "feel good" and getting citizens to behave in irrational ways under the guise of "green" politics. Now we're being told to use CFL bulbs instead of old fashioned electric bulbs — but now we have to store the ones that go bad to take to a Hazardous Materials collection point because the CFLs have mercury in them. Is this rational?

    • badaboo

      Hey Pete , then why dont you just move your wife and kids in proximity to a landfill , and make sure you're totally dependent on well water for your water needs . Dont worry ….stuff can't hurt anybody anyway …right .
      No Pete , recycling is NOT IRRATIONAL IT IS RATIONAL .
      What is IRRATIONSAL , is the fact that all this stuff , if not sepewrated and dealt with seperately will eventually leach into groundwater , and in many cases sevetral miles from the contamination site..that is scientific FACT Pete . I agree not all recycling methods are cost effecive , but the efficacy of such policies are , that is people dont havge babies with brain tumors , and cancer clusters caused by hazardous waste can be eliminated .
      Now what IS irrational , is knowing these things , and putting a profit motive on doing something that we should have been doing from the start , we could have claimed ignorance in the past , but today the science is in and settled . We know the consequences . Besides , if you believe in capitolism , then you must know , that competition , encourages innovation and costs are eventually brought down .

      • coyote3

        The science, again, sigh, is not settled, but there is no good reason not to put profit motive on it. If it catches on, then it will be a success.

  • Garbage

    I'm going to add this article to my time capsule on those who disagree with recycling. I don't want any rewriting of history in 50 years when we see the exteme depletion of basic metals. The time of reckoning is coming though. Be sure to tell your grandchildren that it was you who promoted the destruction of the earth.

  • Beezeebeez

    And I will be sure to tell my grandchildren that it was YOU who vehemently predicted the destruction of the earth!

  • Wideband

    What an appropriate name. It lables your statement perfectly.

  • trickyblain

    He actually rebutted the entire idiotic piece of trash "article." The moron that writes it tells us to forget about all arguments for recycling, except for the one he's taking about. The one that nobody's ever heard of. Then, after slaying his strawman, he tells us that recycling is not vital – ignoring every argument that's presented in the real world (finite resources, the fact that plastics are made from petro etc, etc, etc).

  • Wideband

    He didn't rebut a thing, and if you've never heard the "our landfills will only last the next 15 minutes" claim, you need to hit a few more websites. He also didn't tell us to forget about the other green screeds, he said they can be dealt with at another time.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

      "green screeds"? Having stuff like that rattling around in your brain is what makes taking the leap to "recycling isn't necessary" even possible. Just think, you can now through your glass and plastic in the regular garbage and really stick it to "lefty" and all those alarmists….unbelievable.

      How it can be defended is beyond me. It's a disgusting article.

      • billadams

        You all need to do more research about recycling, the true costs thereof, what happens to most of your recycled goods (landfill occupiers), the harmful chemicals used to recycle many materials (plastics, paper) and the logistics and problems encountered when attempting to recycle certain goods (again, plastics). You've all been greenwashed.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

          Just by chance I am wearing an old "fleece" pullover I bought in Vermont over ten years ago. It is made of recycled plastic from bottles.

          It is always the extremes with you guys. Making an effort to recycle and encouraging in our children and in our society is a inheirently good thing. That does not mean that I think recycling is some magic process and I deny any downside…

          However, the argument that it makes no difference is a hollow and cynical one. You don't even need to read anything complicated. Just read "The Lorax" by Doctor Suess.

          "greenwashed"…holy sh*t. They give you names and excuses for everything.

  • trickyblain

    Actually he says: "We won’t deal with any of these other claims in this column, so that we can focus on the image that resonates so powerfully: that of landfills, full to the brim, taking over the beleaguered American landscape." Where does he say anything about addressing them at another time?

    This Web site is run by the National Recycling Coalition. It lists the "top 10" reasons to recycle. While one of the reason is "(n)o one wants to live next door to a landfill. Recycling preserves existing landfill space," nowhere is the claim made that we are running out of land. This article is a poorly constructed strawman.

    http://www.nrc-recycle.org/top10reasonstorecycle….

    • badaboo

      Wideband , the article was specifically targeted for folks like you . Bubba4 can't what ? Rebut it > He destroyed it , and exposed it for what it is , a totally partisan piece of propaganda straw man argument .
      It's redmeat for the sychophants .

    • coyote3

      yes it is poorly constructed, just because you don't like it. A lot of us around here, don't recycle, some do. It is not necessarily a "bad" thing, as long as it does not cost more to do it, than the benefit derived, but it is not no going to "save" anything, one way or the other.

      • badaboo

        You don't have to like or dislike it ….it's pure b.s. who gives a rats ass if you do or dont , just keep the b.s. you try to peddle , to yourselves .

  • badaboo

    kwg1 – you hit the nail on the head …atleast someone recognizes the article and the author for whast is really is …..propaganda , and if it seems slick , that is only so to the truly ignorant and uneducated ….lol…and I dont mean college educated , lest I then get BRANDED as an "intellectual elitist " , I mean SEVENTH GRADE EDUCATION or better for EVEN SCHOOLCHILDREN COULD SEE THROUGH this facade , this display of ignorance using "alleged intelligent mumblings " .__ Man , can't anyone see what this is ? OF COURSE , there is plenty of land for landfills , in fact , we'll probably in our lifetime or that of our children will never run out of space for landfills , So I guess we can abandon our own intuition , reject logic , CRUCIFY SCIENCE and go about our happy careless ways . Hey man lets start dumping our motor oil into the storm drains again , and that paint benzene , turp and lacquer thinners , yea just put it in with the coffee grinds and eggshells . __What is pathetic about all this , is the legnths people will go to in the way of DENIAL , and the amount of illogic ,which spews like fountains , for the sake of political agenda .

  • badaboo

    AND , Mr .Boston part of your closing sentences are almost if not more ridiculous than Tzupek's where you say " to recycle for the sake of it only ,makes no sense " – your words , and do you really think they reasonably apply to ANYTHING ?

    "Recycling for the sake of recycling "
    Mr.Boston , do you really think that's why people are recycling ? C'mon now tell me true , do you reeeeeeally believe that ???

    Sounds more like the issue is being used as a perjorative against someone or group doesn't it ? >>>Gee I wonder who .
    As for an intelligent argument ? What Tzupek said is tantamount to saying:
    " I flew across the US and man I couldn't even notice the landfills " ..

    • http://www.itecode.com eerie Steve

      I would say money exists as the sole driving force. If it wasn't for government subsidies, there would be no need.

      The only reason politics support it is because recycling centers look so spiffy and clean when they serve as a backdrop on their campaign, and they get a trump card when dealing with local governments. Don't want to go with the Senator? Well no recycling subsidies for you, my friend.

      • badboo

        steve you gotta stop depending on comic boks for your info .try a nice government subsidized LIBRARY .

  • stosh

    Criticize someone's religion and don't be surprised if you get the kind of emotional silliness demonstrated above – you just need to remember that recycling is the primary ritualistic practice of the Church of Environmentalism.

    And as Mr. Trzupek points out, recycling is generally mostly harmless, and it does allow those Greenies to feel superior.

    But of course that doesn't mean it always makes sense. Recycling aluminum *does* make sense, because it takes enormous amounts of energy to make aluminum from bauxite, and almost none to make if from Coors empties. But pace Mr. badaboo, recycling *anything* reusable does not make sense. Recycling glass is seldom sensible, and paper is a toss-up, depending on the economics in question.

    Because this recycling fetish is largely religious in nature ("I recycle, so I'm better than you"), the bozos emotionally attached to it seldom think it through. Recyclables have to be collected from widely disparate locations, concentrated in central locations, separated and then reformed and purified. All those activities cost energy, and all that energy use also generates pollution.

    And in the end, the whole stupid enterprise is often uneconomical. Which is why many municipalities will have warehouses full of old paper and cardboard, so much that they will often pay third parties to haul it away. But all that wasted energy and money does help make some loons feel better about themselves, so I guess that does contribute to the public good.

    Oh, yeah, and did I mention – landfilling instead doesn't take up much space.

    (Please reply in all CAPS – might not hear you otherwise).

  • stosh

    Oh, in case you're interested, this from our Brit cousins via the Daily Mail:

    "Town hall chiefs are to hire warehouses to store a mountain of recycled rubbish for which there is no use and no market, it was revealed today.

    "Tin cans, plastic bottles, paper, card and glass carefully sorted by families and homeowners will be held indefinitely in the new refuse mountain.

    "Councils which have introduced fortnightly rubbish collections and enforced draconian bin rules to compel householders to recycle admitted that no-one wants the material they have collected.

    "Stockpiles of recycled rubbish could be built up by town hall bosses because of a slump in the demand for raw materials such as plastic.

    "The build-up of recycled rubbish has come because the financial crash has brought a slump in demand for recycled raw materials from manufacturers in countries like China.
    News that local authorities are to pile up rubbish mountains at warehouses – former military bases may also be used – came as ministers trumpeted the success of Labour's campaign to hit targets for rubbish recycling.

    "Environment Minister Jane Kennedy announced that nine out of ten town halls are now ahead of their targets and that the Government's hopes of recycling 40 per cent of household rubbish by 2010 should be met.

    "But the warning from councils that they will need to store the recycled material comes on top of growing doubts about how useful recycling really is.

    "In September it was disclosed that more than 100 local authorities have no idea where the recycled rubbish they collect ends up.

    "A high proportion of recycled material collected by contractors is thought to be sent to be buried in landfill in China or countries in Africa and Asia."

    Sorry to break it to ya, but there's a reason they call it garbage.

  • SCH

    babadoo, do you even read your own posts? You scream about propaganda, yet just about everything you've said up to this point is straight out of a Greenpeace pamphlet. Come up with your own conclusions instead of regurgitating what the liberals have been spoonfeeding you.

    The author never said to dump oil in the water, or paint, or any of the other things you mentioned. He never even said to stop recycling at all. He just pointed out that one of the biggest crutches environmentalists uses to make people recycle is pretty much bogus. Tell yourself that you're keeping harmful chemicals out of the ground, but don't say that you're doing it to save space. That's all he ever said. Your panic attack is only proving his point.

  • badaboo

    SCH , my point was , that it was nothing more than a strawman argument , raised for the sake of propagandsa , and based in ignorance . Maybe you cant read huh SCH ? Maybe my critique and exposing of this article for what it really is ,was simply too much for you to absorb . His argument was meant for people like you to suck up , and utilize in the negative narrative you embrace against environmentalists .Environmentalists who support recycling do not hold as their main argument for it …"landfill space " or lack thereof . What have you been reading ..oh wait …articles by Trzupek …of course !!

    "to be conscious of one's own iognorance of the facts , is a great step towards knowledge " – B. Disraeli

    Take that step SCH .

    • coyote3

      Who is people like you???? You have a critique???? My you must think a lot of yourself. All this is much ado about nothing. The author said recycling is fine, just don't think that you are saving anything by recycling "everything". Personally, I believe recycling is fine, as long as it can turn a profit, without a government subsidy. That can be done with a lot of metals, and "some" other things. Some people around here have caught on to that, and have returned to burning their garbage.

      • badaboo

        Like I said "people like you " and you kinda said it all "some people around here " yup , that's you .
        Next time you have a family barbeque , why waste your cash on charcoal , just go get your garbage can and some lighter fluid .

  • stosh

    The misconception that we are running out of landfill space has been – and in some circles continues to be – a popular belief, encouraged, not surprisingly by outfits like the Environmental Defense Fund:

    "One Garbage Barge Story Started the Rumors

    "The idea that we are running out of landfill space can be traced
    to the spring of 1987 when a garbage barge named Mobro 4000 spent
    two months and 6,000 miles touring the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of
    Mexico looking for a home for its load (Miller 2000, 1–14). "Mobro
    set off in March 1987 with 3200 tons of New York trash, originally
    intended for a cheap landfill in Louisiana. Hoping to cut transportation
    costs, the entrepreneur behind the Mobro’s voyage attempted
    to interest Jones County, North Carolina, in accepting the trash.
    But Mobro pulled into Morehead City, North Carolina, before the
    deal could be finalized, causing local officials to wonder: “What’s
    the rush?” They said “no thanks,” and word soon got around, leading
    to rejection slips everywhere Mobro went, including at the original
    site in Louisiana.[10]

    "Although the physical availability of landfill space was not an
    issue, that was not how the situation played out in the press. The
    Mobro, said a reporter on a live TV feed from the barge itself,
    “really dramatizes the nationwide crisis we face with garbage disposal”
    (Bailey 1995, A8). Reports like this managed to turn Mobro’s miseries
    into a national cause.[9]

    "The first actor was the Environmental Defense Fund. John Ruston,
    an official with EDF said, “An advertising firm couldn’t have designed
    a better vehicle than a garbage barge” (Bailey 1995, A8).
    The second set of players were members of the National Solid Waste
    Management Association trade group, who were anxious to line up
    customers for their expanding landfill capacity during the 1980s.
    After Mobro hit the headlines, the organization was widely quoted
    as saying that “landfill capacity in North America continues to decline”
    (Bailey 1992, A1). Panicked state and local officials began
    signing long-term contracts for dump space. The final element in
    the mix was the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which
    also publicly backed the view that there was a crisis—basing its
    judgment on the fact that the number of landfills in the United States
    was declining. What the EPA failed to notice was that landfills were
    getting bigger much faster, and that total landfill capacity was actually
    rising."[6]"

    References available at the website source for the quoted passages above:

    http;//www.de-fact-o.com/fact_read.php?id=89

    Don't expect a rational response from our bababoo-buddy – he's still recovering from finding out that most recycling is just a pointless exercise.

    (But at least he's stopped shouting).

    • badaboo

      Read the first post , before you waste any more bandwidth , and any more of my time .

  • 2maxpower

    this is going to drive the price of caves way up. Osama bin Laden already has the best cave and Al Gore has most of the market in north america.

    I am all for protection of the environment but the greenies are just plain nuts and do not have any answers and like I said there aren’t that many caves.

    what is it the greenies want ? the only solution for them seems to be a mass die-off of humanity. After the last of them hypocrites do themselves in I may entertain the thought. ….NOT

  • John C. Davidson

    The only complaint I have is that the Unions want the customers to separate their garbage so their high paided workers do less and earn more. To offset that expensive proposition, they even resort to fining those who pay them. It has gotten way out of hand.

  • badaboo

    Some of ou guys are so steeped in the rhetoric of your political agenda that you attack ANYTHING that is percieved as coming from the left or left leaning . THAT of course is environmentalists . If it impedes or causes cost increase to polluting or environmentally damaging industries ….you're against it . It's part of your repertoire , part of vthe part line ….you engage in the usual parroting of "talking points " of which you have no real knowledge , but only ignorant utterings based not in science in your politik .
    Dont blame me if you're too dumb to see the transparency of Tzupeks strawman argument . The pathetic thing is , I don't think mthat you're too dumb , but embrace denial for the sake of your politics which is in fact worse .
    You can't attack recycling , because no one's dumb enough to buy that , so Tzupek attacks one of only MANY of the reasons to recycle , and that which is of minimal concern , to the main body of the argument FOR recycling . Again the expected pavlovian response is evident . Too bad IGNORANCE isn't a painfull thing eh ?

  • badaboo

    LOL…..and just blook how the nartrative DEGENERATES into utter STUPIDITY , as 2maxpower displays just how wrong ignorant minds can get things …..YEA ! That's it !! Those DAMN GREENIES !!!! THey would see a mass die off of humanity !!

    "to be conscious of one's ignorance of the facts , is a great step to knowledge "

    Disraeli

    Some of you need to tatoo that on your foreheads .

  • badaboo

    Hey Stosh , guess what …recycling is non -denominational , and should be non-partisan , but I realize your mind has already been conditioned for the knee jerk response ,to what is now becoming sorry and old political talking points . You know its true Stosh , for you are a perfect example of what I'm talking about .
    And as this discussion progresses the teeth are beginning to show ….your imaginary assumptions that , to be concerned [and actually do something ] about the environment , gives such people what ??? "feelings of superiority "" ???…and you call it what ? "religion " …"the Church of environmentalism " ….lol…the animus builds , and the bile comes forth eh Stosh , well you yourself PROVE my point , as to the purpose of even putting this topic up – redmeat for the sychophants , attempting to sound rational out of one side of their mouth and spewing utter nonsense out the other .

    • stosh

      Please rephrase using sentences that actually transmit a coherent thought.

      I'm pretty sure you're trying to make some sort of argument, and there may well be one in there somewhere, but I'm having a tough time teasing it out of all the bile.

      Or maybe it's just me.

      • badaboo

        You're right , it IS you stosh .

        Sorry pal , but you just can't fix stupid .

        -try another 10 or 15 reads , whatever reading comprehensions skills you may possess , might come through for you

        • stosh

          Thanks.

          You've provided all I need to know about your intellectual grasp of the issue.

          (insert last word below)

          • badaboo

            Thanks glad you know what you are , and part and parcell what Mr Tzupecks article is all about .
            Dont think too hard , you may get a headache .

  • bswanson

    Am sorry but Recycling should be a conservative issue. We should be encouraging people to make the choice to recycle as it creates jobs, increases a broader tax base, and can reduce cost as well.

    We should be out in front supporting what can't be recycled being used as feed stock for waste to fuel technology (thermal depolymerization).

    These are things that will increase the efficiency of our economy and lower our dependency on foreign sources of energy.

    I am very proud of the fact that our house has lowered our garbage output by more than half. It isn't that stuff isn't going to landfills. It is that it is lowering the cost of material creation.

    Recycling was good enough to help my (staunch union hating conservative) grandfather get out through the Great Depression it is good enough for me.

  • badaboo

    The person who made the first post got the article and the author nailed . Thumbs up to Bubba4 , for seeing through the tripe & b.s.

  • elevenofclubs

    What about the great pacific garbage patch. It is foolish to think that all trash ends up in landfills. http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/08/28/pacific-

  • badaboo

    lol…I believe you dont , but people do seperate plastic bottles, and soda cans from paper recyclables . Ignorance is bliss ain't it pal ? When the stuff goes to the recycling plant , guess what …they have employees that stand by a conveyor and DO seperate those things you listed , ya know a bit of training and they know which is which and where to put it . Oh I know this must be high grade rocket science to such a mind as your own , but getting in touch with reality may help .
    Now the bit about cigarette butts and gum wrappers …well you know that a bit dramatization on your part , but you get the picture dont you ?
    If your phonebooks are made of recycled paper , how do you think that happens , and Where do you think all that plastic and aluminum goes after people recycle it ? Quyestion is ; WHO ARE YOU KIDDING ???

    " to be conscious of one's own ignorance of the facts , is a great step towards knowledge " – Disraeli

    • Twister

      THEY DO:separate bottles made of different plastics ( which need to be set apart, and how do they know) -polyethylene from ABS, from nylon, from acrylic, styrene, structural foam, etc????????

      THOSE WORKERS CANNOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN E.G. POLYETHYLINE AND POLYSTYRENE, NEITHER CAN YOU. So they do NOT separate.
      As usual, liberals like you have no manners, because liberalism is a mental disorder on top of you having two brain cells you are as naive as a 5-yr old.
      If you believe nobody puts a butt of a gum into a beer/coke can, you are mentally sick.
      YES – that's your "intellectual" level – 5yr old, you cretin.

      • badaboo

        If that's the best you can do twister , it really doesn't say much for you. "yes they can seperate " …."but " , and I already told you the gum wrapper dramatics is really irrelevant , and you know it , but I guess you felt compelled to say something ….even if it was more of your nonsense .

  • Twister

    RECYCLING – A NONSENSE AND A LIE!!!
    Does anybody believe, that all the people "religiously" put clean recyclable garbage as intended? That nobody puts a piece of metal in a plastic bottle? Nobody throws a chewing gum or a cigareete butts in a jar or can?
    NOW:
    does anybody believe there are people separating a sticky newspaper from a dripping sardine can, shakes out butts from a Coke can, separates bottles made of different plastics ( which need to be set apart, and how do they know) -polyethylene from ABS, from nylon, from acrylic, styrene, structural foam, etc?
    WHOM ARE THEY KIDDING???

  • D J Beltran MD

    This article, based on research, reason, logic and restricted to one facet of an arguement has resulted in several responses that expose the depth of ignorance based prejudice that is if nothing else a common thread that seems to characterize the vituperation and irrational responsiveness of a highly emotional group of persons that find their security in the left side of the politcal isle.

  • Cyril the Beneficent

    Let's see, what've we got above?

    Paragraph 1, sentence 1: irrelevant rhetorical question
    Paragraph 1, sentence 2: invocation of the Deity (of questionable sincerity)
    Paragraph 1, sentence 3: personal invective

    Paragraph 2, sentence 1: personal invective
    Paragraph 2, sentence 2: personal invective
    Paragraph 2, sentence 3: personal invective, once-removed
    Paragraph 2, sentence 4: snide dismissal

    Yep, that's badaboo all right – lots of ad hominem attack, nothing of substance to add to the argument

    Anyway we can get this guy as national spokesman for the recycling movement?

    • badaboo

      Common sense doesn't have a spokesman Cyril , you either have it or you dont , OR you discard it for the sake of partisan politica and parroted rhetoric , for after all the effort you make to sound sophisticated , all you do really is to display your lack thereof .

      Threory of Common Sense Occuring in the Universe :
      1) about 30 % of the inhabitants are born with it
      2) about 30% eventually have it beaten into them , simply by the consequences of ignoring it
      3) The remaining percentile go to their graves without it

      I sense you fall into category # 3 . Good luck with that, for those of that category are usually the ones responsible for screwing things up to begin with , and this is self evident every time you open a newspaper or turn on the tv or read a history book . Indeed some develop an immunity to it .
      p.s. This Theory is directly related to The Theory of Arseholes in the Universe .LOL…they're in fact interconnected ..entwined as it were .

  • coyote3

    Did you ever notice that when it is pointed out that some idea, like recycling might have some flaws that need to be considered, rather than just zero tolerance, or government mandate, the reaction is entirely emotional? If the science and the method is so "settled" then it seems the proponents wouldn't have to get so worked up about it. If it is that successful, and works so well, then it wouldn't matter what criticisms there are. Could it be that the those critics have struck a nerve of truth somewhere?

    • badaboo

      typical turnaround game coyote . you fail to recognize the obvious ….here you are arguing . I have not heard any notion resemblinbg "zero tolerance " another "strawman " just like the article by Trzupek . Worked up ? Emotional " ? , the tone is no different than yours and that of your ilk , perhaps a bit less demeaning , and CERTAINLY containing less politically partisan connotation .
      Afterall I do not assign Right or Left to those too ignorant , they're just plain idiots , no matter the political stripe .
      To dismiss an argument tagging it "emotional " is simply a copout , when you have no valid rebuttal . The user of that tag assumes himself as superior, obviously , being above the alleged emotionalism . Seems to me coyote , you've spent alot of time b.s.-ing people .

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  • painreliefindia

    Recycling is very important for our environment also.

  • Lylian

    This article is absolutely ridiculous. What a distorted view of reality you have.

    • http://twitter.com/bodiazrising BodiazRising

      Care to elaborate with your own argument or just want to ignorantly attack. One other thing this article fails to mention is the impact all those extra different trucks on the road collecting each green, blue and blacks bin have. All those trucks use up more precious resources like gas and oil, maintenance and drivers not to mention all the extra air pollutants when driving all around the city. Why don’t you think more than one step ahead of your bleeding heart and see the real impact we can have if we use our brains.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Sorrow01 Sorrow01

    Who proposes scattering anything? You might actually try to read the article before commenting. Also, many forms of recylcing are quite wasteful and energy consuming, since the material being recycled is only worth being recycled due to a government subsidy. Also, many of the recycled products are not even marketable, such as recycled paper. It is often as productive an effort as trying to recycle your last meal.