Penn & Teller Dismantle The Recycling Myth

I've heard for years now claims that the whole recycling thing is a waste, that it requires more resources, energy and money to recycle our recyclables than it's worth. That we'd be better off just throwing the stuff out in the regular trash. Leave it to Penn & Teller to expose the proverbial "man behind the curtain".

After watching this it makes me want to not even bother recycling anymore, but I probably will continue to do so for various reasons; a) I'm already paying for the service with my taxes anyway, b) everyone else is doing it (I know, that's not a good reason) and c) I'm afraid I might get busted by the Ferndale Enviro-Police.

Whew, thank God for me that at least beer cans are worth recycling!

Warning: Penn uses a lot of rather foul language!


Paul Hue said...

I've been onto this for a while, actually, but never with irrefutable evidence that would draw anything other than high-handed, hysterical refutations from those who already absolutely know for certain although they've never applied skepticism to this topic. Maybe with this in hand we can obtain a real open-minded discussion.

Nadir said...

Hey! The video is gone! I'm only a week late...

Dude said...

P&T were right that there is no shortage of landfill space. However, they made a few key mistakes:

1) Recycling is significantly better for the environment than using new paper (see: De-Fact-O debunking here: http://www.de-fact-o.com/fact_read.php?id=62)

2) Some communities (like Seattle) have imposed mandatory recycling because of capacity problems at their garbage >transfer stations< - the places garbage trucks dump their hauls before it's carted off in in even bigger trucks to the landfill. Seattle tried to locate a new transfer station for years and gave up due to significant neighborhood opposition - forced recylcing means reduced garbage inflows to the existing transfer stations, leaving everyone happier.

3) As the flow of recylced materials becomes more reliable, more products are being made from them, and the value of recyclable waste goes up. Similarly, recycling's cost per ton decreases substantially as individual recycle a greater percentage of their waste (see http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/29/nyregion/29recycle.web.html). So increasing recylcing rates itself will shift the economics such that recycling is projected to be a net positive financially for communities within a few years.