Flutterby™! : "Recycling" is an externality

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"Recycling" is an externality

2019-10-03 16:25:19.766809+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Modern Waste is an Economic Strategy.

Beyond disposability, present day waste practices like recycling continue the extension of profit through trash. The Container Corporation of America sponsored the creation of the recycling symbol for the first Earth Day in 1970 (Rogers 2006: 171). The American Chemistry Council, the world’s largest plastics lobby, enthusiastically testified in favor of expanding New York City’s curbside recycling program to accept rigid plastics (ACC 2010). Recycling is a far greater benefit to industry than to the environment. Recycling is an industrial process that produces waste, uses energy, requires virgin (non-recyclable) materials, and often results in down-cycling, where created products are less robust than their predecessors (McDonough and Braungart 2002: 56-60). Moreover, of the fifteen to thirty percent of recyclables that are retrieved from the US waste stream, nearly half are buried or burned due to contamination or market fluctuations that devalue recyclables over virgin materials (Rogers 2006: 176-179). Industry champions recycling because if a company has reusable bottles, for example, it has to pay for those bottles to return, but if it makes cheap disposables, municipalities pick up the bill for running them to the landfill or recycling station. The money industry saves can translate into profit because waste costs are “externalized” into the public realm (Robertson 2011). Externalization is integral to profit. Accordingly, industry spends a great deal of money, energy, and creativity making recyclables into beacons of environmentality so they continue to circulate as “green” externalities, thereby shifting responsibility to consumers and local government (Liboiron 2010). Recyclables are just disposables by another name.

Interestingly, though, cities are often dependent on revenue from their contracts with garbage collection services for street maintenance.

Via MeFi

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