23 June 2006
Got any of that Conscience Salve?
This is a New Jersey story, but I suspect it has cousins from sea to shining sea:
When we lived in New Jersey, we used to recycle newspapers and other paper stuff. Some agency for reformed drug addicts picked it up and sold it for a pittance. This worked fine until New York City came onstream with their paper recycling, when the bottom dropped out of the paper market, and it became more expensive to recycle it than to dump it. The agency then refused to have their clients pick up the stuff; addicts or not, they were able to do the math.
Did this stop the city from having separate pickups for paper? Nosiree. They had special trucks which picked it up on a different schedule than the other garbage and then dumped it in the very same landfill. This cost the taxpayer extra but it made the politicians feel virtuous, and in New Jersey that is no little matter.
My own thinking in this matter is that the value of recycling derives from the "natural resources" you don't have to use, by buying products made out of recycled materials; actual dollar savings, while nice to have, are really, I believe, secondary. Not everyone, however, is likely to agree with this premise.