Talking Around A Recycling Skeptic

Although there is a compelling amount of evidence that most of what the environmental scientists have been telling us for years is true, there is no shortage of skepticism around the major environmental issues facing us. There are plenty of people who have made their refusal to recycle into a political stance. Not only do they not wish to recycle, they wish to pull the rug from under anyone who does. They argue that it actually takes more energy to recycle than it does to dispose of recyclable garbage in a landfill. Do they have a point?

The answer, increasingly, is no. The city of New York, early in this millennium, did once find that the municipal recycling programs were actually losing money instead of saving it, and closed down the programs. Shortly thereafter, they found that landfill space was at a premium and they had to pay for out-of-state landfill. Then they reinstated their recycling programs, having found that they were able to do it in a more cost-efficient manner. It may once have cost a lot of money and required a lot of energy, but as time has passed, recycling has become more efficient.

The truth is that, even if we were to accept that it was inefficient to recycle in the first instance (it is not), the process of recycling takes a lot of the pressure off of manufacturing industries, which have to spend a lot of money to make the materials from scratch. A larger cost up front, if that were the case (and it is not), at least saved the expense further along the line. As this becomes more widely accepted, the skeptics will find they have fewer and fewer allies.

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