Recycling is like improving Enron’s health care plan

June 4, 2021 by Joshua
in Nature

I’m increasingly calling out that recycling is a scam. When I go out to pick up my daily litter, if I see something recyclable near a recycling bin, I’ll put it in recycling, but nearly always the litter in question never needed to exist and makes life worse, like a soda bottle, chips wrapper, or other doof container.

A worker uses a rope to move through a pile of empty plastic bottles at a recycling workshop in Mumbai

If I stumble on a situation someone else created that creates litter, I’ll pick it up, but that the person considered the thing recyclable probably motivated him or her to buy it. In other words, the fantasy that something can be recycled motivates people to use it more. That’s why Coca-Cola, Dunkin’ Donuts, and their peers promote recycling. Trader Joe’s cravenly incorporates “recycled,” “recyclable,” and the like on nearly all their products, nearly all of which are packaged and polluting.

Something labeled recyclable is like something with a nutrition label. Nutrition labels usually mean the product isn’t nutritious and recyclable often means recyclable in rare places, if at all—in other words, not nutritious. Most of the pollution was created during manufacture. Recycling just shuffles material around. It doesn’t decrease production.

Recycling the thing may have some value. Likewise, improving rank and file’s health plan for Enron employees before the implosion may have helped people. It may have led people to join a rogue company and worsened their lives. But overall the scam fantasy that the material might not end up in a dump motivates people to pay for more, which funds virgin production.

Starting recycling programs are like improving Enron’s health care plan. It my help a few people, but it’s grounded in fraud and overall hurts everyone. You need never buy another bottle of water again, nor doof or nearly any packaged food.

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