Once a profitable business for cities and private employers alike, recycling in recent years has become a money-sucking enterprise.
The District, Baltimore and many counties in between are contributing millions annually to prop up one of the nation’s busiest facilities here in Elkridge, Md. — but it is still losing money.
In fact, almost every facility like it in the country is running in the red. And Waste Management and other recyclers say that more than 2,000 municipalities are paying to dispose of their recyclables instead of the other way around. . .
Trying to encourage conservation, progressive lawmakers and environmentalists have made matters worse. By pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins — while demanding almost no sorting by consumers — the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system.“We kind of got everyone thinking that recycling was free,” said Bill Moore, a leading industry consultant on paper recycling who is based in Atlanta. “It’s never really been free, and in fact, it’s getting more expensive.”
A lot of material sent to recycling in your blue curbside bin ends up in the landfill like your regular trash. But with an extra truck trip and addition fuel and emissions thrown in as a bonus. I think the story errs in suggesting that MRFs (“murfs” in the trade, for “Materials Recovery Facilities”) are part of the problem, when I think it is more likely that future MRFs into which we process the entire waste stream instead of sorting our trash would be more efficient and recover more recyclables. But then you’d idle a lot of recycling trucks and employees, not to mention municipal government recycling managers, who have a vested interest in perpetuating a backwards system.
And yet more fun
The Ban Will Likely Lead to an Increase in Palm Oil Cultivation
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned trans fat this week in a move hailed as major step forward in the fight against heart disease. But the move may have some unfortunate environmental consequences.
The increased demand for palm oil—the leading replacement for trans fat—will likely lead to deforestation as wooded areas in the tropics are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.“It’s the single greatest immediate threat to tropical forests and wildlife,” said David Wilcove, Princeton University professor of public affairs and ecology and evolutionary biology, about palm oil.
“It is the leading cause of deforestation and has been for a number of years.”
When the trans fat ban takes effect in three years, experts say that palm oil will be the clear alternative for food producers. In 2006, the FDA enacted a rule that manufacturers label trans fat on food products—and palm oil imports the United States jumped by 60%. The number will be much larger this time around, experts say.