Plenty of blame for the recycling debacle belongs to no-ass local politicians, but also: isn’t it batshit that there’s no nationally coordinated strategy for waste management, waste reduction, and recycling? E.g., everyone says “China isn’t taking plastic, oh well,” like the technology to recycle plastic is somehow unique to China and we can’t possibly do it in the US.
Managing trash is about the best imaginable example of Not A Federal Problem, but there’s no coordination of states on this? No significant state programs?
I mean it’s bullshit when Cleveland runs into one little obstacle and just gives up without telling anyone. That’s exactly zero-ass management, not even close to half-assed. But this is a national problem and there’s no evidence of an attempt at a national solution. Why not?
Possibilities include high taxes on excessive packaging, laws to enable bringing your own container (after the pandemic!) for consumable items, and coordinated development of new recycling facilities in the US. IDK, I’m just some smartass with a math degree. The point is:
On the larger scale we keep hearing China China China and it’s quite honestly fucking bizarre to think there’s something magic about this with China.
Domestic recycling doesn’t to be profitable, doesn’t have to break even, doesn’t have to be cheaper than landfill!
It just has to offer an acceptable dollar cost tradeoff for the environmental benefits it provides. But for that to work we need to not dump all the costs on municipal and county governments. And we have to actually do the research instead of weakly blaming “the market.”
Maybe this is all being worked on and the public just isn’t aware of it yet. When it comes to trash, I don’t have the knowledge of even a sophisticated layperson; I’ve just observed really bad municipal government for 35 years. But from here it doesn’t look like anything of significance is being done, even by individual states, to address the perceived lack of any “downstream” once the truck has come to pick up your blue containers every week.
As a person who has always been ridiculously diligent about rinsing all my plastic and sorting the paper from the cardboard and all that, it really pisses me off that public participation has been the strong link in the chain this whole time. Recycling isn’t failing because people suck at sorting. It’s failing because government didn’t hold up its end of the deal.
(Originally on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MarkWSchumann/status/1263822760201117702)