Thursday, January 22, 2015


Recycling is good, reuse is better, but they are a means to achieve a goal. They should not be the goal. Otherwise we could recycle more by insisting on more wasteful packaging. Sometimes the highest and best use of surplus material is to extract the energy. Unfortunately there are some materials, like composites, that cannot be recycled, but can be burned.
The measure is not how much we recycle, but how little we consume unnecessarily.

 Charging people to discard trash in order to encourage recycling sounds like an expensive management nightmare with our dispersed population.

First let me say I support reuse/recycle but there is a recycle at any price mentality just as there is a wasteful mentality. The recycle at any price mentality leads us to pay about $140 a ton to ship low value recyclable materials to the mainland where most of it will hopefully be recycled.  On the other hand using it for fuel worth maybe $40 a ton is summarily rejected. So the actual cost is closer to $180 a ton. Then there is the environmental impact of shipping it over 2000 miles

A power plant that can convert trash to energy can also burn other waste, like garbage, the100,000 tons of green waste that is collected annually and the uncountable green waste rotting by the roadside. Hawaii used to be powered by bagasse- sugar waste. If adding burnable recyclable material to the mix can make it viable that should not be arbitrarily ruled out.

Charging people to discard trash sounds like an enforcement nightmare. Are they going to inspect everything thrown in the recycle bin?  The whole disposal issue needs to be examined on strictly health, environmental and economic issues not ideology. 

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