Bill Sheehan (zerowaste@grrn.org)
Mon, 12 Apr 1999 10:03:35 -0400

-----Original Message-----
From: John McCrory <johnmccrory@mindspring.com>
Date: Monday, April 12, 1999 5:46 AM
Subject: BIG APPLE GARBAGE SENTINEL - 4/12/99 - Vol. 1, No. 6

Volume 1, Number 6 April 12, 1999
------------------------ BIG APPLE GARBAGE SENTINEL ------------------------


"Welfare for Waste," Recyclers Say, Discourages Recycling

The GrassRoots Recycling Network has published "Welfare for Waste: How
Taxpayer Subsidies Waste Resources and Discourage Recycling" in order to
demonstrate the entrenched obstacles recycling businesses face in trying to
economically viable.

For years, recyclers have complained they are forced to compete on an
playing field in which subsidies distort markets so recycled materials --
which should save money in production -- actually cost more than virgin
materials. This report is the first in-depth study of how direct subsidies,
tax codes, and federally-funded infrastructure might give their competitors
an advantage.

The 114-member coalition undertook a yearlong study of federal subsidies
the 1872 Mining Law to capital gains that are allowed on timber sales. They
found 15 tax and spending subsidies worth $13 billion over five years.

The United States, their report concludes, "continues to bury or burn most
what it calls 'waste,' when the real waste is the resources that should have
been recycled . . . resources that could have prevented more raw materials
from being mined, cut, extracted or squandered."

Copies of the entire report are available for download on the web
<http://www.grrn.org/>, or can be ordered in printed form for $10.00
(including shipping and handling) from the GrassRoots Recycling Network, P.O
Box 49283, Athens, GA 30604-9283.

e d i t o r i a l

In recent years, a number of contrarians have claimed that recycling doesn't
make economic sense. In a New York Times Magazine cover story recyclers
especially irksome, conservative columnist John Tierney suggested that New
York City could save a lot of money by not recycling. According to Tierney,
recycling is a merely a 'religious belief' that forces taxpayers to spend
on waste disposal than they should.

For all their supposed economic sophistication, folks like Tierney seem to
working with a model of markets so simplistic that if they used it to make
investment decisions for their retirement, they'd end up in the poorhouse.

The new report by the GrassRoots Recycling Network brings some
to how we understand the large influence the federal government has on
materials markets. The direct and indirect subsidies they document give oil,
timber, and mining companies an unfair advantage that devastates our
environment and mortgages our future.

Rather than take the traditional approach of suggesting new subsidies for
recyclers to level the playing field, they call for eliminating a diverse
array of existing subsidies and subtle, but substantive changes in the tax

Environmentalists are often expected to be politically liberal, but by
the federal government should not be in the business of spotting the ball
anywhere but the fifty-yard line, the GrassRoots Recycling Network is taking
the truly conservative position. In this case, it is the wiser one. Weaning
politically powerful industries off the government teat will be a
and long battle, but it is the right battle to pick.

--John McCrory

----------------------------- THE FINE PRINT -------------------------------
B.A.G.S. is published fortnightly by John McCrory and distributed by email
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------ All contents copyright 1999, John McCrory. All Rights Reserved. -----