Is recycling about reducing the demand for resources by reusing products or is it an eco-cult promising that your consumer products can be endlessly reborn, your soda cans and pizza boxes, your castoff clothes and sneakers, will magically come to life (as in countless commercials) in the new products you buy?
One is common sense thrift and the other is a pseudo-religious consumer cult.
Reuters conveniently (and unintentionally) revealed the difference with its “investigative journalism”.
U.S. petrochemicals giant Dow Inc and the Singapore government said they were transforming old sneakers into playgrounds and running tracks. Reuters put that promise to the test by planting hidden trackers inside 11 pairs of donated shoes. Most got exported instead.
At a rundown market on the Indonesian island of Batam, a small location tracker was beeping from the back of a crumbling second-hand shoe store. A Reuters reporter followed the high-pitched ping to a mound of old sneakers and began digging through the pile.
There they were: a pair of blue Nike running shoes with a tracking device hidden in one of the soles.
These familiar shoes had traveled by land, then sea and crossed an international border to end up in this heap. They weren’t supposed to be here.
Frankly, who cares?
Is it somehow more environmentally friendly to conduct the toxic process of trying to recycle products than to sell them so some kid in the third world can have that Nike swoosh?
This is where the rubber meets the road. Or the cult.
It’s ecologically better to have someone wear old shoes than to try to recycle the old shoes. There’s zero scientific debate to be had on the subject. The issue is the cultish fad of sustainability. As if products can be infinitely recycled. When mostly they can’t even be recycled once and don’t need to be. The infinite recycling loop is a dumb myth that is unworkable.
What Reuters does expose is the dirty secret of recycling which is that it’s mostly imaginary. That’s as true of sneakers as it is of everything else. Most recycling ends up in landfills. When it doesn’t, it’s exported to the third world where it ends up in piles of garbage that the locals scrounge anything usable from, and dump the rest.
For the planet.
Recycling is a scam. It’s always been a scam. It means rich westerners sending our garbage to the Third World.
And Reuters get indignant because, upon seeing a pair of Nikes that can probably fetch a hefty sum, the locals didn’t dutifully try to turn them into running tracks, but resold them to others. I doubt this is Dow’s fault, though lefty media loves to blame companies that make “polluting” products. There’s no way you’re going to ship Nikes to the third world and not have them end up in a flea market or on the feet of somebody’s cousin.
It’s not happening because of that thing that Left hates so much for stifling all its grandiose visions: human nature.
Algorithmic Analyst says
I felt recycling was nuts, from the start. Just based on analyzing the economics of it. There might be some intelligent policy that exists, like making some products biodegradable for example, but such a policy isn’t likely to get adopted.
Jeff Bargholz says
Yes, it’s bullshit. All the “recyclables” just end up in land fills and garbage dumps and always have.
The March Hare says
I have never heard of any place that would recycle sneakers! In my area recyclables are collected separately and specifically listed as to what is acceptable and everything is sorted out at the recycle center. Aluminum cans, steel cans, plastic bottles and jugs, plastic food tubs, glass bottles and jars, clean paper, cardboard and corrugated containers are acceptable items and separated at the recycle center.
As a mechanical engineer, I am familiar with the equipment used.
Steven Kardas says
Where I live we have to bring our recycles to the waste station and sort them into the proper dumpsters. Then they started CHARGING US to bring the recycles. Then I find out they have been taking all the plastic’s, paper, and glass to the land fill……. for a year and a half because there is to one to take the stuff.!!!! I called the mayor and asked what’s going on . He said “Well, we just wanted to keep everyone in the habit of sorting and bringing the recycles until the situation changes. ” I cursed him and hung up. Everything goes into the garbage can now..
Recycling activities come in many flavors. Some make no sense.
Is there an accurate cost-benefit analysis for anything the Left does or proposes? That is, leaving out the intended political or psychic benefit to the Left. No mass suffering is a problem as long as the Leftist elite expects to make out OK. We’ve been had on a multitude of fronts.
We are supposed to set out a separate bin for “recyclables” but I just throw everything in one bucket. I don’t use paper plates, single use water bottles, etc. because I view it as wasteful but that is my choice. I don’t care if other people use straws or whatever. The people that criticize me for not “recycling” have ten tons of cardboard from Amazon every week. It would be great if everyone just minded their own business.
Earth Day (1970) is when the momentum of recycling began to gain legs. At that time Buckminster Fuller was their intellectual leader who called recycling the “wave of the future where we take what was considered waste and recycle it using “less energy” to do so versus the benefit received. The trick was to recognize what could be recycled and then finding a process using little if any energy to make this trick worthwhile.
During these last 53 years most have forgotten the wisdoms of Fuller, have forgotten his warnings and instead moved to a political focus where scaring others (enter Al Gore) became the trumpet for their movement. I expect many will re-discover the writings of Fuller in the not to distant future and hopefully they will apply his seriousness of becoming true stewards of Planet Earth, our spaceship for sure!
It’s terrible marketing to say your products never break and you use recyclable aluminum too.
Spurwing Plover says
Back when the EDF made that stupid TV ad IF YOUR NOT RECYCLING YOUR THROWING IT ALL AWAY the bitter fact that many that switched from Styrofoam to paper still had a litter problems after Earth Day Celebrations they leave a mess the same thing after the Standing Rock Protest as well and there are some items that cant be recycled