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RE: [GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's New York Times
Ah, John "recycling is garbage" Tierney strikes again!  I believe in freedom
of the press, but this guy.... Can't somebody educate him, or muzzle him, or
discredit him?? Something??!!  

 -----Original Message-----
From: 	Reindl, John [] 
Sent:	Monday, February 18, 2002 9:49 AM
To:	BBAN; ''
Subject:	[GreenYes] RE: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's New York

Given the subsidies to virgin materials, as well as un-internalized costs of
landfills (a European estimate in December 2000 put this cost at about $16 a
ton for new landfills, largely due to methane emissions), any evaluation of
the economics of recycling vis--vis landfilling seems spurious to me.

John Reindl, Recycling Manager
Dane County, WI 

> -----Original Message-----
> From: David Markert []
> Sent: Friday, February 15, 2002 5:00 PM
> To: BBAN
> Subject: [BBAN]: Recycling article in today's New York Times
> Article below excerpted from today's New York Times.  I 
> especially like the
> part about using the recycling budget to urge New Yorkers to 
> pick up litter
> instead of for recycling.  Hah!  Does this guy even live in 
> New York?  That
> strategy doesn't work anywhere else in this country, and it DEFINITELY
> wouldn't work in New York.
> ******************************
> February 15, 2002
> Rethinking the Rites of Recycling
> Environmentalists may not like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's 
> proposal to
> suspend the recycling of cans and bottles. But it could be 
> their best chance
> to save their reputations and do some good for the environment.
> The recycling program was sold to New Yorkers nearly a decade 
> ago with the
> promise that it would save money. It did not. If New York had instead
> shipped all those recyclables to out-of-state landfills, the 
> city would have
> saved more than half a billion dollars, and that figure 
> doesn't even include
> the biggest costs, which are the labor and storage space that 
> citizens are
> forced to donate to the cause.
> Recycling newspapers makes a certain amount of sense, because 
> used newsprint
> often has economic value and people often have special bins for their
> newspapers anyway. But why clutter the city with bins for 
> stuff that's less
> than worthless? The city pays extra to collect and dispose of 
> the bottles
> and cans, and then 40 percent of the stuff ends up in 
> landfills anyway.
> Could this sort of recycling ever pay for itself, as 
> environmentalists are
> still promising? Maybe, but only if its devotees abandon 
> their passion for
> hand-sorted trash and their belief that we're running out of natural
> resources. They've expected recycling to become profitable as 
> raw materials
> become more expensive, but they're on the wrong side of two historical
> trends. For thousands of years, the costs of natural 
> resources have been
> falling in relation to the cost of labor.
> Recycling might someday pay if the sorting were done not by 
> hand but by
> machines. Miners and oil drillers have used computerized technology to
> extract small concentrations of materials that would once have been
> unprofitable. Maybe robots will one day profitably sift 
> garbage for minerals
> and plastics.
> But many environmentalists don't like this vision. In some 
> cities, they've
> fought plans to use automated sorting equipment because they 
> wanted people
> to have the hands-on experience. Here in New York, one of the 
> most expensive
> labor forces on the planet is being forced to sort materials 
> that third
> world peasants wouldn't waste their time saving.
> Recycling has become a sacrament of atonement for buying too 
> much stuff -
> for secretly loving stuff too much, as James B. Twitchell 
> explains in "Lead
> Us Into Temptation," a study of consumer passions. "While we 
> claim to be
> wedded to responsible consumption," he writes, "we spend a 
> lot of our time
> philandering. Trash is lipstick on the collar, the telltale 
> blond hair."
> Recycling is our way of saying, "I'm sorry, honey."
> Sinners have every right to repent, but in this country 
> religious sacraments
> are not supposed to be legally mandated or publicly 
> subsidized. Recycling
> bottles and cans next year would cost taxpayers more than $50 
> million. Why
> don't its devotees find another ritual of atonement that 
> might help the
> environment and save the city money?
> SUPPOSE that all the time and money spent exhorting children 
> and adults to
> recycle were spent instead urging each New Yorker to pick up 
> one piece of
> litter each day. Millions of pieces of trash would disappear;
> street-cleaning bills would plummet.
> Perhaps guilty consumers could get used to paying for their 
> sins with cash.
> Environmentalists could urge the end of free trash 
> collection. If people had
> to pay for each can of trash they produced, they'd find ways to reduce
> waste, and the city budget would benefit.
> Or suppose environmentalists channeled their zeal for 
> recycling into another
> political cause: putting tolls on the East River bridges. 
> These tolls would
> have economic virtues (more on that in another column), while 
> also reducing
> air pollution and fuel consumption by easing traffic congestion. The
> recycling program, by contrast, increases local air pollution and fuel
> consumption by putting extra trucks on the roads to collect 
> bottles and
> cans.
> Could the act of paying a toll be turned into a sacrament? 
> Could children
> and adults be trained to regard the toll as penance for the 
> extravagance of
> owning a gas- guzzling, polluting machine?
> Some recycling devotees might not be satisfied. Paying a toll 
> on the East
> River bridges might seem too simple, too antiseptic, too easy 
> by comparison
> with the mortification of sorting garbage. For these 
> ascetics, maybe the
> best ritual would be for them to get out of their cars 
> altogether and walk
> across the bridges, possibly on their knees. For extra penance, these
> pilgrims could carry sacks filled with old bottles and cans.
> ******************************
> David Markert
> Container Recycling Institute
> 1911 N. Fort Myer Drive, Suite 702
> Arlington, VA   22209
> Tel:  703-276-9800
> Fax:  703-276-9587
> E-mail:
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