Is Recycling Worth It?

John Tierney penned an article in the New York Times “The Reign of Recycling”. It is a good read and makes you think about the stated benefits of recycling that supporters say compared to actual reality. I encourage you to read the the whole article but here are a few snippets:

  • Prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower oil prices and reduced demand for them overseas. The slump has forced some recycling companies to shut plants and cancel plans for new technologies.
  • Most people also assume that recycling plastic bottles must be doing lots for the planet. To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business- or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it could be more like 100,000.
  • Taxpayers are eating the cost: In New York City, the net cost of recycling a ton of trash is now $300 more than it would cost to bury the trash instead.

H/T Economic Policy Journal

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