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Is recycling BS?

Admiral Beez

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There are a numbers of issues with the show.

Firstly, the idea that doing something good should automatically be profitable. Of course dumping is the most affordable thing to do. Zero energy spent. Drop your garbage where you stand?

Secondly, the idea that landfill space is growing so no problem. Well the only way landfill space available grows is by dedicating more land towards landfill. So if we declare the area under our feet landfill problem solved?

Thirdly, recycling paper does save trees. Virgin forests are important because that is where all the wildlife is and the vegetation is in its natural balance. Large trees require a long time to grow to the point the lumber industry would harvest it. Having a whole bunch of christmas trees in a field with no other natural vegetation is a poor substitute for a forest.

Fourthly, that transport of recyclables is a huge additional expense. The issue with this is that fuel consumption and the number of times a truck needs to visit a neighbourhood and return to base is related to how much gets picked up. If recycling reduces garbage by 30%, the garbage truck could either be hauling 30% less or showing up 30% less.

There are issues with most of their points but recycling is certainly not BS.

Can we do better? Of course. We could get rid of hard to recycle plastics in favour of more easily recycled ones. We could reduce consumption which always reduces waste.
You missed one, that recycling, or better put, reprocessing of plastics uses more energy and emits more pollution than if we just buried the plastic and used new plastic each time.
 

Redroom Studios

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A friend of mine turned me on to the Penn & Teller program a couple years back. While it was entertaining I soon lost respect for their opinions and attitudes on things such as the environment and second hand smoke and now this. Actually I found it makes me sick to my stomach watching people who are so apathetic and arrogant.
 

Prometheus The Supremo

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I'm sorry, does that mean that we have - up until now - been living in an era of careful consumption?
sorry. poor choice of words on my behalf. what i meant is that alot of people have no problem buying many cases of bottled water and drinking many bottles a day when they could just drink from the tap most of the time. they have a false sense of assurance that they are not causing a problem because they'll just recycle those bottles and everything will be fine and dandy. if more people understood the recycling process, alot of good people out there would consume less unnecessary products such as bottled water.




A friend of mine turned me on to the Penn & Teller program a couple years back. While it was entertaining I soon lost respect for their opinions and attitudes on things such as the environment and second hand smoke and now this. Actually I found it makes me sick to my stomach watching people who are so apathetic and arrogant.

they have admitted error in their secondhand smoke episode. i had some beefs with their disabled parking episode (just some parts not all) and feel that some of their episodes have too much libertarian bias but they hit the nail on the head on alot of stuff. i like their style of just being straight out with what they want to say.
 

Prometheus The Supremo

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You missed one, that recycling, or better put, reprocessing of plastics uses more energy and emits more pollution than if we just buried the plastic and used new plastic each time.
i think an effort to discourage the use of bottled water when unnecessary would be beneficial. lets not forget that the first of the three R's is "reduce".
 

Admiral Beez

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We must also remember that plastics come out of the earth in the first place in the form of oil. By putting them in landfill, we are simply returning them underground from where they originated.

I fully agree on bottled water. I'm always amazed by folks that buy that stuff when it's free every where.
 

Hipster Duck

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We must also remember that plastics come out of the earth in the first place in the form of oil. By putting them in landfill, we are simply returning them underground from where they originated.
Yes, because we all know that burying PET bottles with a layer of topsoil will accelerate a depolymerization process that miraculously returns crude oil to the earth.
 

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There are some contemporary disconnects between the production and recycling of certain materials, and this is a problem. For example, there are engineered plastics that can be more appropriate for continuous reuse than some of those presently being employed.

Certainly the issue of energy consumption is worth noting. The unfortunate desire to see energy prices increase in order to lower consumption does make energy consumption an issue for recycling. In a number of cases, recycling does consume more energy than the new production of materials. Collecting refuse up and putting in a landfill is cheaper than collecting, separating and reprocessing it. Increasing energy costs only works against recycling initiatives. One can overlook the energy costs only to a degree.

As for Penn and Teller and their shows, take them with a grain of salt. I find them amusing, but I would not alter my life solely on the basis of their word on every issue they present.
 

Admiral Beez

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Yes, because we all know that burying PET bottles with a layer of topsoil will accelerate a depolymerization process that miraculously returns crude oil to the earth.
Yes, with some plastics and the right top soil. But it's not called depolymerization, instead it's bioremediation, wherein certain types of bacteria (such as Pseudomonas) that can break-down some types of plastics. Plastics are made from petrolium based hydrocarbons. The hydrocarbons in the plastic serve as food for the bacteria. Everything returns to the earth eventually.

What we should be doing is regulating which plastics can be used, so that only those that readily breakdown are introduced into landfills. Then we can concentrate our recycling efforts on items that actually make fiscal and environmental sense, such as soda cans.
 

Admiral Beez

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Bringing ‘purity’ to Toronto’s blue bins
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/04/13/bringing-purity-to-torontos-blue-bins.html

IMO there are four things needed to get recycling working correctly...

1) Do no rely on the public to know what is recyclable or not.

It’s not the citizens job to understand and follow the cities ever changing recycling rules. For example, who’d have known that the black plastic fast food containers we get from Swiss Chalet, marked #2 recycling are in fact not recyclable. If it’s metal, paper or plastic with a recycling symbol, it’s going in the blue bin. If that doesn’t work for the city, make it easier for the people, see #2.

2) Remove non-recyclables from the system

Do not allow, or financially disincentivize companies from producing, importing and selling products or food in non-recyclable packaging. This may require national or provincial legislation. Packaging stewardship programs can help, where manufacturers, importers and retailers can be fined for bringing in non-reclycable packaging materials.

3) Return to refillable, returnable beverage containers

The original recycling program that we still use for beer. Require returnable glass bottles with deposit charge for drinks. I was born in 1971, and never saw a problem returning my pop bottles. Financially disincentivize the use of both single use and refillable plastic bottles, charge the producers and retailers the true cost of their impact. Charge bottled water companies the true cost of taking our drinking water, thus reducing this silly use of plastic. This also removes a lot of plastic from the environment, and the recycling bins.

4) Require all fast food containers and coffee cups to be recyclable and charge a deposit on all.

If we can put a man on the moon, we can make a Tim Hortons cup that can be recycled. By putting a refundable deposit on all fast food containers this will force the restaurants to take ownership of their packaging, and will give the old Chinese ladies on my street rolly bin diving a new revenue stream. This leaves the question what to do with unmarked, containers and packaging, since who do you hold responsible and who do you return it to for refund.

Do all of the above. And recycling won’t be BS. Right now we’re just shipping it all to China, and treating their country like our garbage dump. It’s no wonder they finally said no.
 
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Northern Light

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Bringing ‘purity’ to Toronto’s blue bins
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/04/13/bringing-purity-to-torontos-blue-bins.html

IMO there are four things needed to get recycling working correctly...

1) Do no rely on the public to know what is recyclable or not.

It’s not the citizens job to understand and follow the cities ever changing recycling rules. For example, who’d have known that the black plastic fast food containers we get from Swiss Chalet, marked #2 recycling are in fact not recyclable. If it’s metal, paper or plastic with a recycling symbol, it’s going in the blue bin. If that doesn’t work for the city, make it easier for the people, see #2.
Exactly right.

Though, black plastic IS recyclable, however, the commercial market for it is small, and Toronto hasn't found any takers for the product, so they would end up throwing it out, and thus prohibit it from their bins. Some other municipalities have found takers.

2) Remove non-recyclables from the system

Do not allow, or financially disincentivize companies from producing, importing and selling products or food in non-recyclable packaging. This may require national or provincial legislation. Packaging stewardship programs can help, where manufacturers, importers and retailers can be fined for bringing in non-reclycable packaging materials.
Agreed

3) Return to refillable, returnable beverage containers

The original recycling program that we still use for beer. Require returnable glass bottles with deposit charge for drinks. I was born in 1971, and never saw a problem returning my pop bottles. Financially disincentivize the use of both single use and refillable plastic bottles, charge the producers and retailers the true cost of their impact. Charge bottled water companies the true cost of taking our drinking water, thus reducing this silly use of plastic. This also removes a lot of plastic from the environment, and the recycling bins.
I'm old enough to remember this program (pop bottles) and would support its return.

On drinking water the current (increased) permit fee is $503.71 per million litres.

Put another way, well less than 1 cent per litre.

If the fee were raised to say .50c per litre that would hardly be burdensome, yet it would shift some silly buying habits (cases of bottled water), and if nothing else, it would raise almost 2.5m dollars per day from Nestle alone, or about 900m per year. That patches some budget holes. (Nestle's permits allow 4.7M litres of extraction per day). https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-proposes-to-boost-water-bottler-fee-by-500-per-million-litres-taken/article33653753/

4) Require all fast food containers and coffee cups to be recyclable and charge a deposit on all.

If we can put a man on the moon, we can make a Tim Hortons cup that can be recycled. By putting a refundable deposit on all fast food containers this will force the restaurants to take ownership of their packaging, and will give the old Chinese ladies on my street rolly bin diving a new revenue stream. This leaves the question what to do with unmarked, containers and packaging, since who do you hold responsible and who do you return it to for refund.

Do all of the above. And recycling won’t be BS. Right now we’re just shipping it all to China, and treating their country like our garbage dump. It’s no wonder they finally said no.
How about the simplest starts to again reflect previous policy? Fast food beverages for in-store consumption must be in reusable, washable containers (mugs/glasses).

IF you order to go, then recyclable is fine; but, you should get a .10c discount if you bring your own travel mug or other refillable container.
 

Admiral Beez

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How about the simplest starts to again reflect previous policy? Fast food beverages for in-store consumption must be in reusable, washable containers (mugs/glasses).
Tim Hortons used to do that for their coffee, and still does for their eat-in soups.
IF you order to go, then recyclable is fine; but, you should get a .10c discount if you bring your own travel mug or other refillable container.
Flip that around. You don’t get a discount for doing the right thing, but a penalty for doing the wrong thing. So, you come to buy a coffee but don’t have a refillable mug, the staff offer you two options, buy a refillable mug or pay a fine PLUS the refundable deposit on the paper/plastic cup, with the mug costing only about x2 of the fine.

As for coffee cups, styrofoam is entirely recyclable. Why did we stop using those for takeaway containers and coffee cups?
 
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Davidackerman

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Thanks for this thread.. Do we really know the cost to the city for recycling. I'd love to see an audit of the service. What get's done and how much it costs us.
 

BurlOak

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Tim Hortons used to do that for their coffee, and still does for their eat-in soups.Flip that around. You don’t get a discount for doing the right thing, but a penalty for doing the wrong thing. So, you come to buy a coffee but don’t have a refillable mug, the staff offer you two options, buy a refillable mug or pay a fine PLUS the refundable deposit on the paper/plastic cup, with the mug costing only about x2 of the fine.

As for coffee cups, styrofoam is entirely recyclable. Why did we stop using those for takeaway containers and coffee cups?
In Halton - styrofoam is not. Not having consistent recycling rules is a huge problem.
 

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