Is Recycling a "Waste" of Time? - Granite Grok

Is Recycling a “Waste” of Time?

Recycling nature waste green earth

Recycling is a thing. Plastic, glass, paper, metal, cardboard. But it’s not a carbon neutral thing. It is carbon intensive. And while “removing it” from the waste stream may save tipping fees for your local municipality,  if you think you are saving the planet, you’re not.

To be clear, I am a big fan of reusable material. Part of my real job includes managing packaging and packing.  I’ve designed and deployed product cartons and packing that can be reused multiple times. In some cases, indefinitely with no extra effort. And I’m not a packaging engineer.

It reduces material in the waste stream, and I like that, but it does something more important. It is free-market innovation that saves time, money, energy, and material. A win-win. We save money, the customer saves time and money, there’s less trash. My entire motivation is “waste.” Wasted dollars.

And I do recycle. My town pays less for tipping fees when recycling is segregated out of the waste stream. I like the idea, but I understand that the moment it no longer lowers my taxes it’s a waste of time and money. Because. a) I’m not snookered by the reduce CO2 emissions fraud and b) even if I were, recycling would be a no-go because if carbon footprints (CO2) are your concern recycling is worse for the environment.

And this is not news.

It’s been documented and reported for close to two decades. Look it up. The energy wasted to clean recyclables before you ‘recycle them?’ The energy needed to recycle into a reusable form for glass, cardboard, and paper, and metal is carbon intensive. Trucks, facilities, power, people, and process, all consume more energy than just burying the stuff in the ground. Which is where it came from, if not in that form.

That does not mean we should not continue to look for better ways to deal with waste. We do have it and it piles up. You can give it back to the earth, cover it over, even make a park on top of it. But what about using it a resource?

Some recyclable products are probably worth saving. Aluminum. Some paper and plastics. Not all.

Most of our garbage could be reduced to dust to create energy instead of wasting energy to process it inefficiently. I know, incinerators have a bad rap. But if the only problem is reducing their pollution output, how is that a problem we can’t solve more easily than any other?

How about better incentives to keep stuff out of the waste stream? I do it at work without threat or prompting and I’m the knuckle-dragging conservative Neanderthal.

We know the enviro-left likes this idea. They pick on meaningless things like straws and bags with acts of legislative force. But those are creepy sideward glances at a suddenly sexy stranger three drinks in at the bar. A promise to satisfy some immediate urge with little hope of a meaningful future.

Which is not a bad way to describe single-stream recycling. It gets people to buy in because it’s easy. You feel like you are husbanding a better world. But it’s a lie. And the false sense of accomplishment encourages you to waste in other areas of your life.

I’m not an environmentalist, I am more of conservationist. Not animal rights but stewardship. Thoughtful, responsible, self-action, and information, dedicated to getting above the green-activist noise machine and the indoctrination of generations to accept solutions that in many cases are bigger problems than the things they claim to “cure.”

Your thoughts on this are appreciated because everyone is worried about waste but not about wasting our time and we can’t recycle that.

Update: Changed the title.