Recycling Benefits a Myth?

When I told someone about my blog recently, they recommended that I write an entry about the real benefits of recycling. Apparently, the magicians/comedians/activists Penn and Teller did an act where they stated that recycling was basically a waste of time and that it used more energy than it saved. I looked it up and here is the blog entry as requested.

First of all, its true that some have questioned the benefits of recycling. A New York Times reporter wrote a famous article in 1996 that analyzed the cost/benefits of recycling and posited that the only beneficiaries were environmental groups, public relations firms, and waste companies. This idea is based on the fact that, indeed, recycling programs are only as beneficial as the efficiency of the city's system.

About.com has a great example of this problem at this site. The example they use is New York City's recycling program in 2002. The City's recycling program had become inefficient and expensive and demand for recycled glass and plastics by manufacturers was down. Mayor Bloomberg discontinued recycling services for glass and plastics. Eventually the City's landfills became complete filled with garbage and they had to contract out private landfill space. The new contracts raised the price of garbage collection and made recycling a more cost effective alternative again. Now the City has reinstated their glass and plastic recycling. Had they worked harder in 2002 to streamline the recycling process and found a more efficient recycling company, New York City could have avoided the hassle of stopping the service only to start it all over again. They could also have avoided filling their land fills with extra garbage.

So it is true that there may come a time when a city's recycling program becomes inefficient and, therefore, more costly. But the moral of the New York City example is that the long term benefits greatly outweigh the short term costs.

PS - Click on the advertisements to the right. They relate to the blog AND they keep "Green Piece Blog" renewable!

No comments:

Post a Comment