Skip to comments.Activists call recycling trash waste of time [Environmentalists call recycling "a complete failure"]
Posted on 03/04/2003 7:16:56 AM PST by ZGuy
A group of Swedish environmentalists -- convinced that recycling is a colossal waste of time and money -- is urging people to toss their blue boxes in the garbage.
To the chagrin of fellow environmentalists in Canada and across the globe, the group said burning cardboard, plastics and other household trash is actually much better for the planet than any recycling program has turned out to be.
In fact, the group contends the so-called benefits of recycling are all but nullified by the environmental damage associated with hauling the waste to and from the recycling facilities.
Coupled with the overwhelming cost of collecting, sorting and reprocessing the material, the group is convinced that decades-old recycling initiatives are nothing short of a complete failure.
"Protection of the environment can mean economic sacrifices, but to maintain the credibility of environmental politics, the environmental gains must be worth the sacrifice," the consortium wrote in a recent newspaper article.
At the controls of this latest anti-recycling crusade are five residents of Sweden, a country well-known for its trailblazing initiatives aimed at protecting the environment. Made up of environmentalists and waste-collection companies, the team is lead by Valfrid Paulsson, a former director of Sweden's environmental protection agency, and Soren Norrby, the former campaign manager for Keep Sweden Tidy.
Based in a country already full of incinerators, the campaigners say technology has improved so much in recent years that the process is completely clean and safe. It also allows communities to generate significant amounts of electricity, reducing their dependency on oil.
Environmentalists in Canada, however, dismissed any suggestions that recycling is a foundering experiment that should be immediately scrapped.
"I think they're flying a kite," said Guy Dauncey, a Victoria-based author and environmental consultant. "It's nonsense."
For decades, Canada has built very few new garbage incinerators, largely over concerns that they emit harmful substances. Changing that philosophy is definitely not the way to solve any glitches associated with recycling, said Veronica Sherwood, who co-ordinates the Nova Scotia Environment Network, an umbrella organization for the environmental groups in the province.
"Recycling may not be the best choice," she said yesterday. "It burns considerable precious energy and does in fact add to fossil fuel emissions. However, incineration is not an ecologically sound alternative."
Burning recyclables, said Mr. Dauncey, would still entail the same amount of effort as traditional recycling. Simply ensuring that certain toxins do not filter into the air would involve the same level of methodical sorting that occurs now.
And, he said, transportation costs -- both financial and environmental -- would not decrease if incineration replaced recycling.
"You can't put an incinerator in the middle of downtown Toronto," he said.
"So you've still got to haul the stuff to an incinerator."
David Wimberly, a well-known Canadian environmentalist, said the campaigners are doing nothing more than trying to sell a few incinerators.
Either way, other observers said it is time that Canadians -- who produce approximately 21 million tonnes of garbage every year -- more rigorously debate the merits of recycling.
"It's always worth taking a look at the numbers and looking at the reliability and asking: Have we got the mix right now or should we be trying something else," said Donald Dewees, a University of Toronto professor who specializes in environmental economics.
How big was the last plastic container you took home that held two little cream puffs?? How many plastic garbage bags did you use this year??
Years ago, we "sold" our newspapers and rags to a dealer. We sewed the holes in our socks. We put our coffee grounds and egg shells in our gardens.
Plastic?? I'm trying to think of "What was made of plastic??" when I was a kid. Toys in the cereal boxes, Canasta trays, some dolls....???? Not much.
Uffda! It's unseasonably cool here in the SoCal desert also - supposed to be mid 60's today, when the norm for this date is close to 80! Wifey always checks the Fargo weather in tandem with Minneapolis to see how it might be in the Melrose, MN area - from whence she emanated.
Recycling - I often wonder about the value, since we now have three belching (and oil leaking) trucks to collect the garbage....Regular, recycle, greens/yard clippings.
Or at least a nice, rich mulch.
Highly recommended reading for those interested in the current state of thinking on environmental issues.
You're not alone, Cajungirl. Years ago, when I was living in Boston, I got sick of separating my trash like a good little automaton. I just started throwing EVERYTHING out.
For a while, my roommate was actually fishing my trash out of the garbage to clean and recycle (I guess we all need a hobby) and lecturing me, indirectly, on the horrors facing our planet because of my reluctance to rinse out my gallon milk jugs.
I was too busy writing my novel and enjoying my life to give a damn. This no doubt lost me many karma points.
Hubby Big Guy and Rusty and myself now live in beautiful sunny Florida, and we continue to ignore the mandates to recycle. Still, we encounter the occassional raised eyebrow and comment about our recycling non-habits. I figure if they want to rinse out our milk jugs and peel the wrappers off soup cans, more power to 'em. That's what we need, more clean land fill...
Keep the faith! ;-)
The NYTimes Magazine did a cover story along these lines a few years ago. It may have had a tiny effect on the thinking of a few, e.g. NY Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has drastically cut back the city's recycling program.
But there'll be no convincing the majority of people on this topic, I'm afraid.
That's because 'environmentalism' is a RELIGION.
Or use them as fertilizer in our gardens.
That is a consumer in the backward third world.
Now in an enlightened society...The coffee comes in three foam treated paper cups, as to not burn you. The cream must be poured from plastic capsules, usually taking three. The coffee is stirred by a plastic stirrer. The butter is in capsules similar to the cream, but five of the butters are needed, adding to the heap of garbage sitting on the table. Your meal arrives on foam plates, salt and pepper is in paper envelopes(as is the sugar), the utensils are plastic wrapped in plastic. Of course there are civilized leash laws in enlightened urban areas, so no dogs can make a living out of handouts. They wait to be euthanized out of view of your "to go" foam box.
Even the French let you bring your dog with you into a cafe'.
Starbucks alone creates as much waste as the entire backwards population of Bolivia. But Starbucks is enlightened on such matters, the people of Bolivia just practice environmental stewardship because they can't afford to buy all that food wrapped in trash that civilized countries do.