The Environmental Costs Of Recycling

To the every-day man the process of personal recycling is accepted without challenge as being good for the environment and good for the planet. Indeed, those who engage in personal recycling generally are proud, even smug about their own contribution to saving the planet. But should we feel good about recycling? Is it really good for the planet? Are we effective recycle-ers? Well, let’s look a little deeper to find some answers.

First of all, the average industrial manufacturing plant is far better than you and I at conserving water and recycling resources, and have been for quite some time. In fact, you and I would be financially crippled paying fines if we were regulated to the same standards are even the dirtiest industrial manufacturing plants.

When it comes to water, you and I was wasteful to the point of it being shameful. Showers, toilet flushing, car washes, on and on it goes, billions of water we waste each day. Every industrial plant recycles water in some way. Very few homes do.

But what about the recycling that we do engage in? Surely that helps the environment, yes?

Think about this, separating trash from recycle material requires more fossil fuels to transport and handle. It requires more plastic bins, and it uses more water in the form of rinsing and re-processing. Recycling paper causes the paper companies to plant less new trees. Reprocessing metals often requires the use of harsh chemicals which likewise creates more pollution.

Am I saying that re-cycling is bad? Well, for water, yes, it is bad. And for a lot of other things it isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. In short, like any process, recycling has a lot of downsides, Until we abandon our personal agendas and let science guide our decisions we will keep making mistakes that come back to haunt us decades down the road.