Curbside Recycling: A Costly Mistake

Recycling companies are facing hard times. Partly that’s because in 2017 China started closing its doors to waste. It doesn’t accept mixed paper or most plastic or electronic waste.

Although some recycling (such as electronic waste) has been relocated to South Asia, the dwindling market for recycled material has sent prices downward, making it difficult for the entire industry. 

But the biggest problems face companies—and communities—that pick up and sort household. Approximately 60 curbside programs were canceled in 2017, “with even more drop-off site closures and material limitations,” says Waste Dive, a newsletter about the waste industry. (The newsletter does note some programs that had been dropped have come back.)   

Material that is supposed to be recycled is ending up in landfills, an Atlantic article said earlier this year. Companies are debating how to cope with the shrinking market. A debate over the “single-stream” versus dual-stream (requiring homeowners to separate recyclables) continues.  Continue reading “Curbside Recycling: A Costly Mistake”

A Big Factor in Australian Fires

Both California and Australia restrict action by landowners to protect their property.

The Australian fires bring back sad reminders of the California experience. As with American wildfires, an ounce of prevention could have gone a long way to decrease the destruction.

As explained by Kat Dwyer of PERC, in a recent article in The Hill, an Australian law is making matters worse.

Controlled burns, once routinely used by farmers to reduce fuel around their properties, can now result in fines exceeding $500 per tree removed. Indeed, Liam Sheahan, a resident of Strath Creek in central Victoria, was fined $50,000 for clearing trees and shrubs around the perimeter of his home. He spent an additional $50,000 on legal fees defending his decision. After the Black Saturday bushfires devastated his community, Sheahan’s decision was vindicated as his home was the only one to remain standing.

Even the government’s land managers themselves are performing fewer controlled burns. According to Brian Williams, captain of Kurrajong Heights fire brigade, Australia has been burning less than 1 percent of its bushfire-prone land for the past 20 years. Similarly, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services reported that out of 812 hazard-reduction burns that have been planned since 2016, only 439 have been completed.

It is time to reconsider our public lands policy and lower the hurdles that prevent communities from acting to protect their homes and livelihoods. This is as true in the United States as it is in Australia.

The War against Poachers

Anti-poaching action leads to multiple deaths of rangers and poachers alike.

The International Ranger Federation reports that 269 rangers were killed across Africa between 2012 and 2018, the majority of them by poachers….

[R]esearch on organized crime estimates that between 150 and 200 poachers were killed in the Kruger National Park alone [between 2010 and 2015]. In neighboring Botswana, anti-poaching action has reportedly resulted in dozens of deaths, and the country’s controversial “shoot to kill” policy—which gives rangers powers to shoot poachers dead on sight—has drawn allegations of abuse.

From Cathleen O’Grady in the Atlantic.

And more:

South Africa’s most recent rhino-poaching crisis came out of the blue. In 2007, the country lost just 13 rhinos to poaching; the next year, that number jumped to 83, kicking off a nightmarish escalation. Losses peaked at 1,215 in 2014, and deaths are still high: 2018, with 769 rhinos killed, was the first year that losses had dipped under 1,000 since 2013. South Africa is home to 93 percent of Africa’s estimated 20,000 white rhinos and 39 percent of the remaining 5,000 critically endangered black rhinos, making South Africa’s rhino crisis a global rhino crisis.