The Raleigh News & Observer has done an outstanding public service with its article titled “Is Recycling Worth It? We Dove into Recycling in Raleigh and This Is What We Learned.” It explains in detail what happens to goods that are put into the curbside recycling bin and suggests ways the public can recycle difficult items (such as batteries, textiles, and plastic bags).
What it doesn’t do is answer the question in its title—is recycling worth it? I’m pleased to see that at least two commenters on the story raised that point.
So how much are we spending on recycling—how much more than if we simply put unwanted materials into a landfill? Probably quite a bit. Years ago Daniel Benjamin wrote a paper for PERC (the Property and Environment Research Center) that pointed out all the extra costs. I don’t think things have changed much. Furthermore, as I wrote on this blog in 2020, a Gonzaga University economist calculated what would be needed to hold all this nation’s waste for 100 years: a landfill forty-four miles square and 120 feet deep. That’s it!
Image by Nareeta Martin for Unsplash.com.