Purpose of Recycling

Fri, 22 Jan 1999 16:21:13 -0500

[Forwarded from Tanya Levy TAL1@ci.berkeley.ca.us]

The purpose of recycling is to change the way our industrial
societies behave, so as to maintain the planet's resources for
posterity....change the economic throughput equation. How can
anyone argue with this??? Simply:

1. Reducing landfill is one small purpose of recycling - the
"alligator" that motivated communities to act that would not have
responded to less immediate (resource loss) threats.

2. The main purpose of recycling was to change the way
manufacturers use resources, and to establish an infrastructure
and habit for retrieving materials for reuse. Change requires
reducing the risk of investment.

Reducing the risk of investment in using recycled rather than
virgin materials (subsidized by govt &/or owned by the
manufacturer) required

a. guaranteeing a reliable and low cost supply of materials
(municipal collection programs, mandated goals)

b. assuring as much as possible a demand for the products:
(minimum content, purchasing preferences, etc.) and removing
purchasing barriers unrelated to function (brightness).

Companies using recycled materials (newsprint, boxboard, glass,
aluminum, steel, etc.) find it profitable and efficient. New
more efficient technologies resulted from this formula of
supply/demand with a push by government - just as extraction
resulted from government sponsored economic incentives of the

Changes we want -- e.g. more organic farming -- can be
accomplished if farmers can get a cheap supply of soil ammendment
(collection of municipal yard trimmings and food waste).

What's Tierney's problem? Who is he (other than a Times staff
Of course, we all know that recycling (handling the waste
products of the status quo) is just one step...and redesign of
production and consumption systems is the next challenge.

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