The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute

Subscribe to the blog

Discussion: (8 comments)

  1. Seattle Sam

    The whole point of religious rituals is to make you feel virtuous through penance. Why would environmentalism be any different? Catholics employ confession. Environmentalists prefer recycling.

  2. Robert puharic

    As a liberal, you go where the evidence leads. And in this case I think conservatives may be right. While recycling programs seem to be good for civic involvement, I’ve never seen a lifecycle cost/benefit of recycling. Where are the benfits?

    1. to answer this look at what commercial recyclers pay for and how much. Copper is one example where it is so valuable that theives have discovered that you can make money stealing pipes and wires from empty buildings (even with the risk of electrocution if the wires are live). Of course this is because copper prices are a lot higher than they used to be. Steel is recycled with over 83% of steel put into use in the US being recycled (this includes recyling at the steel plant, at manufacturing plants, and auto recycling yards).

      Even before recycling was a big things civic groups would run paper drives going from door to door to pick up paper and cart it to the paper recycler. However in some years the paper recylers did not pay for the paper, so no paper drive, in other years it was a way for a civic group to raise money.
      So of course this does raise the question what if communities stopped the door to door pickup of recycling, and left it to civic groups to do to raise money?

      1. chuck martel

        The price of copper might have something to do with thefts from buildings but there are other factors that have been ignored. Stealing copper from a building is hard, dirty, dangerous work, but not dangerous enough. The chances of being apprehended in the act are small and convictions are rare, unlike something clean, like shoplifting. The cops couldn’t care less about a copper theft, which involves felony breaking and entering, but store security goes after thieves with enthusiasm.

    2. “As a liberal, you go where the evidence leads. ”

      I must have read this a dozen times, and it’s still funny! Thanks for making my day!

    3. As a liberal, you go where the evidence leads“…

      Not to put to fine a point on it but you’re lying…

      Reality always undercuts the liberal stance regardless of the subject might be…

      Liberals refuse to recognize their complete lack of aibilty in accomplishing anything even remotely useful and productive

  3. Google “Penn & Teller _ull_hit – Recycling Part 1″. Funny take on the scam that is the religion of recycling.

  4. Nothing wrong with auto bone yards, nothing wrong with metal scrap yards, and there is certainly nothing wrong with giving aluminum cans to Habitat for Humanity (please do that!).

    But there is a whole lot wrong with government-contracted recycling which charges you extra to do their work for them. You spend valuable time sorting the stuff, and as often as not (especially when commodity prices are low), the stuff get dumped in the landfill with everything else. What that proves is that you are not recycling, you are only an unpaid sorter of trash.

    If the government stepped aside and the value of the recycled materials is enough to generate profit, private entrepreneurs will become involved. As in most cities, the private contractors are only involved because of large lucrative contracts paid by the taxpayers. And that, my friends, is called rent-seeking.

    It is a known fact that it is far cheaper to directly landfill or incinerate trash. If we need plastics 500 years from now, the landfills can be mined more cheaply than the present cost of “recycling” and presently there is no significant economic gain to recycling plastic, paper or glass when virgin raw materials are plentiful.

    If you buy into the mind-set of the kook-fringe environmentalists … just because they say that you are “recycling” doesn’t make it so – unless you are reusing the stuff yourself.

Comments are closed.

Sort By:

Refine Content:


Additional Keywords:

Refine Results

or to save searches.

Refine Content