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Recycling consumes resources, not saves them

Summary:
As we might have pointed out before certain types of recycling consume resources, not save them:The amount of household recycling collected has nearly doubled in some areas during the pandemic, pushing up the costs of keeping services running, local councils have said. Eight in 10 English councils reported a rise in the volume of paper, cardboard, plastic and glass being collected since the national lockdown began, according to data from the Local Government Association (LGA).Half of councils said they were collecting up to 20% more material for recycling than normal, with a third dealing with 50% more and some noting a 100% rise – on a par with levels usually experienced at Christmas.The surge in the amount of household waste and recycling to collect has increased costs to councils,Note

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As we might have pointed out before certain types of recycling consume resources, not save them:

The amount of household recycling collected has nearly doubled in some areas during the pandemic, pushing up the costs of keeping services running, local councils have said.

Eight in 10 English councils reported a rise in the volume of paper, cardboard, plastic and glass being collected since the national lockdown began, according to data from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Half of councils said they were collecting up to 20% more material for recycling than normal, with a third dealing with 50% more and some noting a 100% rise – on a par with levels usually experienced at Christmas.

The surge in the amount of household waste and recycling to collect has increased costs to councils,

Note that we do not say that all recycling consumes more resources then are saved. One of us once recycled some scraps of Soviet nuclear power station (unused, scraps from the construction, not from use) into those go faster alloy wheels for the cars of boy racers so we can hardly condemn the practice outright.

Rather, we need a system of determining which types, forms, of recycling of which goods save resources overall and which consume them. In a market economy this is simple enough. Systems which are losing money are consuming resources, those that turn a profit are saving them.

An increase in household recycling is increasing the cost of the system. This not being outweighed by a surge in the revenues from the sale of the items recycled. Greater volume means larger losses - the system is consuming resources, not saving them.

The aim of recycling is to save resources, household recycling consumes resources, we should stop doing it. That is, if the aim is actually to save resources. If it’s, as it might well be, simply a religious obeisance to Gaia then that’s alright then. Except for that obvious point that it has been several centuries since Britain enforced religious observance at the point of the law and that might not be something we wish to reintroduce.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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