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10 Ways Recycling Hurts the Environment

10 Ways Recycling Hurts the Environment

Andrew Handley January 27, 2013
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People talk about recycling like it’s some sort of superhero—just by throwing that plastic bottle in the green bin, you’re doing your part to punch pollution in its oily kidneys and leave the world a greener, healthier place. And yeah, re-using old materials is a great way to reduce the impact on the environment . . . if it works. But sometimes the theory is better than the practice. Here are ten ways recycling actually hurts the environment.

Paper Sludge Is Just Disgusting
When paper is recycled, it’s all mixed together into a pulp. That pulp is washed, cleaned, and then pressed into new paper sheets. During that process, wastes like paper fibers, inks, cleaning chemicals, and dyes are filtered out into one giant pudding known as paper sludge. The sludge is then either burned or sent to a landfill, where it can leach dozens of toxic chemicals and heavy metals into groundwater.

If you think that there would be regulations against that, you’d be right. But there’s one loophole: mixing anything else with the paper sludge, even just sand, turns it from waste into a product. And there are no regulations against tossing tens of thousands of tons of your product into a landfill.

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I will check him out for sure... he sounds like one of those

rare 'anti-recycling, anti-wind turbine, anti-corn ethanol' environmentalists like myself.

I saw the best minds of my generation, destroyed by pandas starving hysterical naked

-Allen Ginsberg

And myself. Likely Gunther is also an anti-nuclear

environmentalist like his friend Amory Lovins... and myself. I used to be pro nuclear power. Reading what Amory's written on the subject changed my mind. http://www.dailypaul.com/comment/3238005

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

1500$ fine for using wrong bin in Buffalo NY

Here in Buffalo, a landlord can getup to a 1500$ fine if his tenants put garbage into a recycle can by mistake. Here the difference is the can color,recycle is green, the garbage blue. In my units, there are only blue garbage cans. All my tenants are color blind. :)

Having been in the garbage business...

Having been in the garbage business I can tell you it starts in your first sentence, "just by throwing that plastic bottle in the green bin". Right from the start it is a fail because you have more than one type of bin. This means two separate truck routes through each neighborhood to collect two types of garbage.

Twice the fuel burnt, twice the tire wear, Twice the popped hydraulic lines leaking fluid, Twice the exhaust emissions, Twice the noise pollution, Twice the electricity to process it at the transfer station, Etc. Just because of the equipment it is a fail from the start and was a loss before the "green can" was ever even dumped.

Without subsidies paid out and tax deductions, the program would not exist, because there is absolutely no profit in it for the garbage company at all. Even with these they still only break even.

If I disappear from a discussion please forgive me. My 24-7 business requires me to split mid-sentence to serve them. I am not ducking out, I will be back later to catch up.

Just read about this:

Reusable Tote Bags: Bacteria Ridden or Safe to Use?

I like this statement: E. coli is a scary word, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “most strains of E. coli are harmless.”

Nothing to see here...move along and die of bacterial infections...as long as you go green.

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

The problem is one of comprehension.

Re-purposing repairing and re-using are not the same as reconstituting.

People all too often think of the first three when they speak of "how easy" it seems recycling should be.

Of course, putting something old to a new use, continuing to use something instead of throwing it away, or repairing an item back to usable condition are no where NEAR as expensive or damaging to the environment as reconstituting.

Certainly, avoiding putting something into a landfill needlessly is a good thing to attempt, but to put forth a losing effort to reconstitute material is just plain stupid.

Where actual reconstituting makes sense and is profitable - sure, go ahead, but government can't ever successfully determine what items to do that for, on what scale, in what areas of the country, and in what methods.

Wacko environmentalists are just smart enough to cause more damage and harm, but not bright enough to understand and comprehend the full issues.

They jump at buzzwords, while failing to think anything through to a logical conclusion. This is primarily because they are not logical people. Nearly all, if not all, are guilty on a daily basis of committing the classic logical fallacy of "post hoc ergo propter hoc" or "after this, therefore because of this." They see something occur later in time, then see something that came before it, and without any further investigation, assume and make policy on the assumption that the earlier event caused the latter.

An absurd example would be if they saw a bird fly by, and then shortly after saw a rain cloud move overhead and dump rain, then promptly conclude that birds cause rain. Yes folks, most of them really ARE this bad, or nearly so.

We win this war the Dr. Paul way - through education.

Educate people on the difference between re-use, re-purpose, repair and reconstituting and we will end this insanity of "recycling."

Read the comments

Forced recycling ignores the real world expenses and markets for the stuff and ends up spending far more money, expending far more resources, than simply allowing waste to go straight to the landfill. There was a scare about 30 years ago that we were running out of he landfill space. Like most scares, it had an element of truth, but it was vastly overstated. That problem was pretty much solved by opening new landfills, not by recycling.

The last numbers I saw years ago was that a ton of waste in a landfill cost $25, but a ton of waste going through a recycling center could be $250. And the product that comes out of the recycling industry is not worth enough to cover the input costs, so we spend more resources saving relatively few resources.


The comments at the end of the article miss the point. Unfortunately, articles like this are considered wrong headed by most people and get dismissed with little thought.