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Re: [GreenYes] Defense of recycling

There are a number of resources that you can turn to for information on the
value of recycling - particularly municipal recycling.  These include (in no
particular order):

Northeast Recycling Council (
Environmental Defense Fund (
GrassRoots Recycling Network (
Natural Resources Defense Council (
Institute for Local Self Reliance (
Inform (

I have following comments regarding your request:

1. The principal defenders of recycling, particularly municipal recycling,
are the usual suspects - NGO and public sector recycling advocates.  As I
observed in previous postings to GreenYes and other lists, the absence of
vigorous defenders of recycling from private sector companies and trade
organizations, even those that have directly benefited economically from the
upsurge in municipal recycling that has occurred, is quite conspicuous.
This situation, unfortunately, lends credence to the suspicion that the
current advocates of municipal recycling are merely defending their jobs and
public funding sources.

2. The usual methods for defending recycling often appear to me to be too
abstract - such as "its a NN billion industry" or "it saves X barrel
equivalents of oil annually."  We need to present the data we have in a way
that is politically powerful such as "X number of families depend on
recycling to put food on the table" or that a defense of recycling is really
a defense of small businesses, etc.(the latter strategy, BTW, is one that
the powerful beer distributor lobby for example has used to defend
effectively its interests.).  Everytime someone writes an article about how
recycling wastes taxpayer money, we should have a press event with families
who work for recycling operations looking right into the TV camera saying
"hey I'm a taxpayer, I work hard, I do an important public service and I
want to know why this person wants to take food from my family's mouth."

3. Another defense of recycling would be one that is based on showing
examples where recycling works economically and where companies use
recyclables because it gives them competitive superiority.  We don't use
this strategy enough, in my opinion, partly because we don't do enough to
collect this kind of data and we are overly reliant on public funding for
this kind of data collection.  Now, when we have tight local government
budgets, this is going to be a real problem.  I have also maintained that we
need to develop low cost ways to collect and disseminate useful program data
but so far, I have seen very little interest in developing this strategy.
This is of concern to me since the opponents of recycling seem to pursuing a
successful strategy of developing their own secure non-governmental funding
sources while lobbying hard (and sometimes successfully) to shut down public
funding of recycling under the guise of defending the taxpayer through
fiscal responsibility.


Roger M. Guttentag

----- Original Message -----
From: Tavey McDaniel <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 30, 2002 10:02 AM
Subject: [GreenYes] Defense of recycling

> Does anyone know of good fact sheets or websites that have information on
> ways to defend recycling?  I have seen the one that NRC has on their site,
> but I was just wondering if there are others floating around out there.
> Thank you.
> Tavey McDaniel
> Director
> Carolina Recycling Association
> PO Box 1578
> Pittsboro, NC 27312
> 919-545-9050
> Fax 919-545-9060

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