Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Recycling Idiocy Part 2

Earlier, I talked about how they removed the trash cans from our offices.  Last week, they implemented a permanent change.  They took out the old trash can and replaced it with a large paper recycling bin and a small trash can.  Some people complained, but I did not have a problem with it.  The smaller trash can was a minor inconvenience, but I figured it would not hurt to go along with it.

But then I learned that they are not going to empty the small trash cans.  A janitor comes by and empties the recycling bin, but leaves the trash untouched.  We are supposed to go out and empty it ourselves.

So of course I now have a very strong incentive to dump all of my trash in the recycling bin.  That is the only way for it to get emptied out.  We are basically going to ignore the trash can now.

I really do care about keeping a healthy ecosystem and using resources efficiently.  I always applaud useful initiatives that reduce waste.  When they asked for budget-cutting proposals, I sent an email recommending implementing a system to force people to pay for printing.  All people should pay the cost of their activities, and letting people print for free was creating a mountain of waste.  We now have such a system, and it has worked well.

But paper recycling is useless.  It is actually worse than useless; it is a costly waste of resources.  Trees are a renewable resource.  You plant them, they grow up and suck carbon out of the atmosphere, and then you chop them down and make paper.  Recycling paper is a messy, polluting, energy-intensive process.  It is actively harmful to the environment, and it wastes money that could be used for better things.

Originally I had thought that throwing trash in the paper bin would annoy our janitors, which is never a good idea.  But now that I think about the paper recycling process, I am fairly sure that our janitors would not be affected at all.  They will just empty my bin into a big recycling bin, which will get tossed into a truck and taken to a recycling center.  That recycling center will face increased labor costs from sorting things out, especially if lots of people act like I do.  This will serve the dual purpose of hiring some local who needs a job and making paper recycling look less attractive.

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