Talk radio has been ranting about Seattle making recycling mandatory. How stupid! It’s only common sense and dollars and war. What do I mean?
Well recycling means we pay less for garbage disposal. That issue was decided long ago when special interests proposed that Seattle burn its garbage. The recycling community and others asked the City Council to do what any sensible business does – do a cost effectiveness study of the various alternatives to disposing of Seattle’s garbage. When it was completed the results said it would cost Seattle ratepayers less to recycle as much waste as it could and work to reduce waste in the first place than it would to burn it or bury it.
Burning garbage produces toxic incinerator waste and ash as well as emitting chemicals into the air we breathe. These include dioxin which is produced when plastic is burned. The incinerator industry’s solution to toxic ash was a prolonged attempt to try to declare it non-toxic by bureaucratic fiat, namely rename it as non-toxic.
Dumping garbage in the landfill is costly. We currently ship our garbage to eastern Washington – a not in my back yard, an out of sight out of mind solution.
Recycling saves both materials to be reused or remade into new products. Like plastic into picnic tables. It also saves energy. For example recycling aluminum into new cans uses 1/20 of the energy it takes to produce one from raw bauxite. Producing aluminum is very energy intensive and competes here in the NW with other energy users like Seattle’s electric ratepayers.
And my punch line – is this why we are in Iraq, so we can keep access to oil so we can continue to produce more plastic and other throwaway garbage instead of reducing waste and recycling? It’s a question of priorities as well as cost. Recycling makes sense and saves dollars and makes us more responsible world citizens. How many people have to die in places like Iraq and elsewhere so we can continue a throwaway society? Seattle is doing the right thing.