Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Recycling Waste

Time to confess. How does it feel to be part of the problem?
Separating used newspapers, egg cartons and orange juice containers from regular trash has become routine in recent years, an easy request of residents willing to do something to help the environment....

But doing right by Mother Nature is becoming increasingly more expensive for communities including Tampa and Hillsborough County as the price of recyclables slumps.

Even though residents are recycling more trash, revenue from the sales of recyclables has plummeted, records show. Feeling the pinch most are firms that sort and handle recycling trash. That has already resulted in higher handling fees charged to cities and counties, a cost that could be passed onto residents and businesses in increased pickup fees if prices stay low.
We've dutifully recycled for many years that its now habit. 2 daily newspapers, water bottles, Gatorade, wine, a few other odds and ends. Look for the recycle symbol. A quick rinse, and throw it the recycle bin. We even drag our recyclables back with us if we're out for a weekend and don't have a place to recycle.

Recycling is good, right?
It's good for the environment, we've been told.

Perhaps that's not really the case.
IF you live in the United States, you probably do some form of recycling. It’s likely that you separate paper from plastic and glass and metal. You rinse the bottles and cans, and you might put food scraps in a container destined for a composting facility. As you sort everything into the right bins, you probably assume that recycling is helping your community and protecting the environment. But is it? Are you in fact wasting your time?
Lower oil prices have reduced the demand for recycled plastics. Recycling levels have largely stagnated. Despite these conditions,there are calls for more recycling beyond paper, plastics, glass, and cans, which will further add to the costs.

But it must be doing us and Gaia some good, right?
But how much difference does it make? Here’s some perspective: To offset the greenhouse impact of one passenger’s round-trip flight between New York and London, you’d have to recycle roughly 40,000 plastic bottles, assuming you fly coach. If you sit in business- or first-class, where each passenger takes up more space, it could be more like 100,000.
Even those statistics might be misleading. New York and other cities instruct people to rinse the bottles before putting them in the recycling bin, but the E.P.A.’s life-cycle calculation doesn’t take that water into account. That single omission can make a big difference, according to Chris Goodall, the author of “How to Live a Low-Carbon Life.” Mr. Goodall calculates that if you wash plastic in water that was heated by coal-derived electricity, then the net effect of your recycling could be more carbon in the atmosphere.
Well, darn it! I've been fooled again.

But surely my recycling those nasty plastic bags is great!

Well, that "science" is pretty weak at best. Sure some plastic bags find there way into the oceans, waterways, and drains. No one likes looking at one tumbling in the wind. But plastics are not killing the dolphins, choking the whales, or clogging landfills in any real meaningful numbers. But still think those reusable bags make you right with nature?
Holding the typical HDPE grocery bag up as the standard, researchers found that the common reusable non-woven polypropylene bag—the ubiquitous crinkly plastic tote, typically made with oil—had to be used at least 11 times to hold its own against an HDPE grocery bag. Cotton bags had to be used an amazing 131 times to do the same.
Oh well, another bubble burst.

This is hard to take on recycle night. It's time to take out the papers, bottles and plastics. Including those we brought back from this weekend.

Old habits die hard.

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