The trashy romance of recycling 10

Recycling is uneconomic.

It is nothing more than a ritual, a rite. Those who want it performed – the sentimental Self-Appointed Protectors of the environment (SAPs) – feel that it is a virtuous thing to do.

Actually, it’s a colossal waste of time, energy, and money.

It doesn’t even happen anywhere near as much as the SAPs imagine it does.

And, in any case, most trash is beyond redemption.

Here are some extracts from an enlightening article by Sultan Knish:

Every branch of government from Washington D.C. to your local town council had spent a fortune convincing people that recycling is a magical process that turns your old pizza boxes into new pizza boxes while creating those imaginary “green jobs” in the community. The reality was a lot dirtier.

All of America’s industries, including trash sorting, had been outsourced to China. … All that recycling, which children in progressive communities are taught to sort as the closest thing to a religious ritual, was really being dumped by the ton on dirty ships and sent over to China. We weren’t recycling it. The Chinese were.

But now China is banning foreign recycling …

Even the Communists got tired of sorting through the trash of American socialists. The recycling scam shipped garbage on dirty ships for dirty industries while pretending that they’re clean and green.

There was never anything clean about it. …

Now the recycling party’s over. Plastic recycling imports were banned early this year. Even fiber has trouble getting in to the People’s Republic. China’s mixed paper standards mean that most of the recycled cardboard and paper no longer passes muster. Instead it’s piling up in the United States.

The recycling scam used to be an easy trade. China shipped its cheap products made from recycled American junk and scrap here. The empty vessels used to dump Chinese junk products on America were then filled up with tons of recycling for the return trip back to China at minimal cost.

We sent them junk, they sent us junk. …

But China is out of the recycling dump business. And the recycling business depended on it. No other market pays what it did. And no other country has the industrial scale to handle this much recycled trash. The American market is flooded with recycling that no one wants and trash prices have imploded.

And that’s having an immediate impact on the progressive recycling programs in the United States.

California’s trash is going right back to landfills. 62% of exported materials used to go to China. But no more. California’s Department of Resources Recycling sent a letter cautioning that the “economics of recycling” had become “unfavorable” thus “challenging what recycling means to Californians”. …

In Massachusetts, mountains of trash recycling are piling up and there’s talk that trucks may stop picking it up. In Pennsylvania, a “recycling crisis created by China” was blamed for a refusal to accept paper. In Seattle and Phoenix, recycling is going into landfills. Fees are going up in Portland. In Pasco, recycling was abandoned before its start. In a Kansas City plant, one out of four items is going into a landfill. In Sacramento, where all of California’s recycling rules are made, most recyclables no longer are. …

Recycling has become economically unsustainable, but that doesn’t mean it’s going away.

If you live in a blue state or city, expect to spend a lot more time sorting your trash, cleaning your cans and removing plastic from your envelopes … China will no longer be sorting American trash. So progressives have decided that you will. …

Most homeowners have no idea how much of their recyclables go into landfills anyway. The dirty business of municipal waste contracts will continue on uninterrupted. The extra fees and costs will be another one of the left’s thousand cuts that are bleeding the middle class to death.

Homeowners will be taxed harder so that crony cash can flow to even bigger recycling operations. …

Recycling is not a reality, but an idea. Like Communism, it can never be achieved, but must be aspired to. …

The ships carrying most of the blue state and city “green” trash will no longer be allowed into China. But there are other countries and continents desperate enough to take their socialist trash.

The dirty secret of recycling is that it depended on the willingness of Third World countries to greenwash our trash so that progressives could pretend that their moral garbage was saving the planet. …

The People’s Republic [of China] has progressively been colonizing Africa. Some African countries were already being used to recycle and dump e-waste. The shipping won’t be as cheap, but recycling’s next stop is likely to be Africa where environmentalists will turn it into a trash heap … to protect the environment.

Recycling is a trashy romance. Let it end.

Posted under Africa, China, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 27, 2018

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This post has 10 comments.

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  • Jeanne

    I suspect many counties have always operated their recycling at a loss, just as our county continues to do. I know the items that come in as recycled get sorted at the landfill by county employees. Not a job I would want, as the rules are not enforced and rarely obeyed. People are absolutely nasty in their lack of concern and/or totally clueless about what is and is not okay to recycle. The county has warehouses full of cardboard ready to go …nowhere. Plastics and glass are nearly as hard to get rid of. Most of what gets tossed into recycling bins goes into the landfill. I agree that it is a feel-good waste of time and resources and the subtle shaming that goes on is ridiculous.

    We recycle for the purpose of keeping our monthly garbage still fitting into the 2 yard waste container that gets picked up the last Friday of the month. There are four households on the farm that contribute. It costs us $80 bucks a month now, as the cost goes up every quarter and year. We clean our jars and cans and plastics and stack our paper/cardboard. Maybe we will just stop recycling…cuz, guess who gets to take it to the recycling center when my old van is full of bags?

    • liz

      We save paper and cardboard because we burn it in the winter.
      I also save glass jars (I use some, most just pile up, I’m a packrat).
      The rest we haul to the local landfill. They charge for it but at least the price hasn’t gone up in years. My question is, why can’t they just incinerate everything?

      • Jeanne

        Oh, do you have a wood-fired furnace, Liz? My friend burns all his paper trash in his. We have always had a wood stove insert for heating and we use it nearly exclusively. We do burn our paper trash. There is so much of it. Probably why there is an ozone layer hole over the farm…

        • liz

          LOL! Yes, ours, too!

  • DougT

    I understand your point, but a wholesale indictment of the process is a bit over the top. It just needs sound justification (no bogus justification as you point out). Steel, for instance, makes eminent sense to recycle (it’s a large part of the business model for companies like Nucor, a for-profit C-Corp). So does re-refining spent motor and cooking oils.

    • Yes, metals are an exception. It would be good to save them. Used oil? If it’s possible. Not possible at domestic level, is it?

  • Cogito

    A superb indictment of the environmental fantasy

  • It’s indeed dogma. Who knew we were outsourcing recycling? It seems to be mostly the West coast. I haven’t been able to find out where my recycling goes.

    Here in Westchester County, NY, all of our non-recycled garbage goes to fuel an electric power plant in Peekskill. I recently read that the garbage is 30% off its 2007 peak and we have to import garbage from Rockland County to make up the difference. We have a garbage shortage! Perhaps we recycle too much.

    Recently there’s a been a religious environmental concern about straws. John Stossel debunks it here: https://reason.com/reasontv/2018/07/17/plastic-straw-myths The myth is so pervasive that even our Republican mayor is talking straws. Everyone has become the straw-police.

    • liz

      And I heard that China produces something like 90% of the straw waste!

      • I don’t know about straws in particular. For plastic waste that winds up in the ocean, the USA contributes only 1% while the majority comes from Asian countries with China being the biggest by far (according to a Univ of Georgia study). The idea that American straws are a problem, which are a minuscule part of the 1%, is absurd. That’s what Stossel was talking about. But the narrative is more important than the facts for the environmental dogmatists.