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Are landfills the best solution for rubbish

  1. Oct 13, 2015 #1

    wolram

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landfill

    We have a landfill just three miles from us, some times the roads are are a right mess and the rubbish has blown off the trucks into the hedge rows, apart from the mess the landfill is taking up acres of farm land.
     
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  3. Oct 13, 2015 #2

    DEvens

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    "Best" implies a value judgement. That requires an evaluation of what the relative importance and value of the various inputs and requirements for dealing with all aspects of resource use. And this value judgement has to be shared and accepted across an entire society.

    The only mechanism humans have ever come up with to make such judgements in anything resembling a rational manner is a free market. Prices allow information on a huge range of possible alternative actions to be balanced and compared. Including the costs of dealing with the wastes of various processes. Or possibly modifying the processes to decrease waste. Or to recycle it. Or maybe incinerate it and generate power. Or any of a huge number of other possible choices.



    The way to deal with the rubbish blowing onto other people's property is property rights. If the landfill operators are required to come clean up the rubbish they dump on other people's land, then they will correct their operation to save themselves the bother and expense. Simple thing like a cover over the truck bins might well save everybody a lot of annoyance. Similarly, if they are required to clean up leaks from the landfill, or to correct polluted groundwater, etc., they will correct their own process

    An example of something that is not too drastically far from ideal is how the Canadian system works. Basically, the regulator says "prove to me that your methods are safe according to the rules in this fairly simple regulatory document, and you can operate."

    The way NOT to deal with such things is for some government to come along and declare, for example, that we all must recycle everything. If there is value in recycling something then there will already be a market for it. As for example, there is a market for recycled aluminum cans. You can feel smug about recycling aluminum cans. But much of the rest of the entire recycling craze is a huge fetishistic boondoggle. It increases costs by a lot, and does nothing for the environment. Or even damages the environment in some cases.
     
  4. Oct 13, 2015 #3

    OmCheeto

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    I consider electing officials who share my environmental stance to be another rational mechanism.

    Can you site an instance where any government has declared that everything must be recycled

    Covering up a problem with dirt doesn't make the problem go away. There are superfund sites all over the world, because the free market said it was ok. The fact that there was no market for keeping things tidy, doesn't mean the problem didn't come back to haunt us.

    I recycle everything my city allows. About the only two things I can't recycle are unmarked plastics, and cat poop.
    It actually saves me money. The city has incorporated "market" strategies, which say that if I get once a month garbage service, they'll charge me less. And I still get weekly recycling service.
    It actually takes me 2 months to generate 20 gallons of garbage.

    That might make a fun addition to my signature: "fetishistic boondoggler"
    Thanks!

    My rates have not gone up a lot.

    nothing?

    This was interesting, so I looked it up.
    The very first site listed 10 things that were bad about recycling.
    Unfortunately for the author, his reference to "lead" in paint, being recycled into new products struck me as odd, as I thought "lead" in paint had been banned.
    It was banned, 37 years ago.
    So right off, I knew he'd be grasping for straws.
    I wasn't disappointed.
    My take-away lesson from his list, which is more of a question really; "If it's so horrible to recycle things because of all the horrible toxic things in them, why are we putting horrible toxic things in the things we buy in the first place? Aren't we just going to send these horrible toxic things to the landfill otherwise?"

    Another less hyperbolic site, had this to say:

    No mention of what the other harmful recycling practices are.
    But I would say, we should find out what they are, and fix them.
    And their information on plastic recycling tells me I've been doing it right, for many years. (pat on back, pat on back)
     
  5. Oct 13, 2015 #4

    russ_watters

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    Hehe.
     
  6. Oct 14, 2015 #5

    mheslep

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    Used to be, only one truck came 'round to pick up the trash. Now there are two, one for garbage, one for recycling. More trucks, more pollution, more road damage, more, more, more.
     
  7. Oct 14, 2015 #6

    DEvens

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    That's because your "stance" is more important to you than science. And you consider the brute physical force wielded by governments to be an acceptable tool in what you replace scientific discourse with.
     
  8. Oct 14, 2015 #7
    Except current tech has less pollution in its exhaust fumes.
    Road damage is abysmal if you ask me.

    Here's an idea, why not make people burn everything, that way there isn't any need to pick up garbage so we have 0 trucks driving around, less, less, less (healthy)

    One of the major problems I know of in recycling is plastic films around packaging.

    Generally I try to recycles as much as possible, we are obliged to do so for aluminium containers, plastic bottles and drink cartons (in the same bag), PMD (plastic bottle, metal containers and drink cartons).
    Paper and cardboard goes separate as well. As does glass and metals.

    What's left are things like thin plastic containers like yoghurt pots and cling film these go into a plastic bag which we bring to the recycling park.
    Secondly there is food (and garden) waste which you can feed to your chickens or turn into compost.
    Lastly there's all else like textiles, old wallpaper etc. General waste you could call it.

    We get a certain amount of free* bags for general waste and PMD.
    The rest we can generally bring to the recycling park for free, except things like asbestos and other hard to process materials.

    * Free means its included in our city taxes which you pay regardless. Extra bags can cost quite a lot.
     
  9. Oct 14, 2015 #8
    Obviously, whether landfills are the best solution for rubbish, depends on the type of rubbish.

    The main problem is toxicity, which may present problems for future generations. Mistakes are made in the regulation of landfills and sometimes authorities decide that landfills have to be reprocessed. Not so easy with radioactive waste.

    Pricing encourages the generation of rubbish enormously. First we pay for the rubbish to be produced, and then we don’t want it.

    Obviously, the best solution for rubbish is to reduce it, just like all inputs and outputs – just reduce until the problem goes away or becomes negligible.

    Governments try to reduce the production of rubbish with regulations about packaging, but not about the contents. They are scratching the surface. Let them continue, so that we can all smugly say that we are doing our best to protect the environment.

    Those who are so concerned about the environment, should ask themselves every time they dispose of something, why am I doing this?
    They should reduce their consumption to the absolute minimum!
     
  10. Oct 14, 2015 #9

    DEvens

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    Sigh.

    The purpose of a system is what it does.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_purpose_of_a_system_is_what_it_does

    So what is it that "let the government continue" does? Does it actually improve the environment? Do we actually see less damage to the environment in places where the government has continued?

    Nah.

    The purpose of letting the government continue is what it does. It let's the government continue. Thus, such a scheme is automatically successful, since its purpose is to expand and extend the power of government. Whether it helps the environment or not (almost universally not) is irrelevant to the evaluation of a scheme to let the government continue.

    That we are most certainly NOT doing our best to protect the environment is not even on the list of evaluation checks for such a scheme. There is no mechanism nor measurement even contemplated. Other than compliance that is.

    A recycle scheme, for example, is deemed successful if everybody complies. No check is made, nor even contemplated, that it actually helps the environment. Rules about packaging are deemed successful if everybody complies. No check is made, nor even contemplated, that it actually helps the environment. Helping the environment is not the purpose. Extending and expanding government control is the purpose. For that is what it does.
     
  11. Oct 14, 2015 #10
    Well, no. You are right on the whole. We don’t see less damage because any reduction is more than compensated by higher production and consumption, which increases the amount of rubbish.

    However this does not alter the fact that the government tries to protect the environment, with some successes, and I think that it should continue to do this, so that we can say we are doing something.
    Examples: Auto Emissions, Waste water treatment.
    In the case of cleaner rivers, we do indeed see big improvements, at least in Europe.

    We are not doing as much as theoretically possible because it is too expensive. The future costs of a deteriorating environment are impossible to calculate, so you can’t get citizens to pay nor to reduce the cost through lower consumption. It’s very much a case of live now, pay later, which I think is very understandable.
     
  12. Oct 14, 2015 #11

    WWGD

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    You don't think goverment regulations, politicking, imperfections and all involved, are overall supported by research?
     
  13. Oct 14, 2015 #12

    wolram

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    One way to save waste is to buy your veg (loose) instead of in plastic bags, compost all food waste and do not buy any thing that has multiple wrappings.
     
  14. Oct 14, 2015 #13

    WWGD

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    I just use the supermarket bags to hold the recyclables. No need to buy extra bags. Or you can buy reusable bags.

    There is also the fact that at least 1/3 of food bought is thrown out because it spoils.

    And a developmental model that is not based on growth , measuring success with yardsticks other than GDP, sales, etc increase would also be helpful. I dont know enough about economics to come up with one myself.
     
  15. Oct 14, 2015 #14

    russ_watters

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    Er....not necessarily. If routs are well planned so the trucks are completely filled, addition of recycling trucks should result in zero change in truck-miles traveled to pick up the trash.
     
  16. Oct 14, 2015 #15

    russ_watters

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    That's a bit of a loaded question (example to follow). In general, I'd say that practical concerns (economic, the environment, effectiveness) are generally part of the conversation, but way behind politics (government being government) in importance.

    See Obama's way to deal with nuclear waste. Sure, you can say he commissioned research, but clearly he had little actual interest in using scientific research in dealing with the issue. The result was that the "research" was flawed because he purposely set it up to be, but that's irrelevant anyway because it was only ever intended to be a distraction from the illegal, economically flawed, scientifically flawed, but politically useful policy (pandering to Harry Reid because he needed the ally) he had already executed before the "research" charade even started.
     
  17. Oct 14, 2015 #16

    WWGD

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    EDIT: Interesting that Friedman, the defender of everything free market, despite claiming not o agree with teaching tenure, accepted a tenured position at the University of Minesota:

    https://books.google.com/books?id=Ennh28taSiEC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=was+milton+friedman+a+tenured+professor&source=bl&ots=7di8K8-8gv&sig=mTRx1qjdoMn7XMX1Lq3JfL4rgug&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAGoVChMIq_3w8LbCyAIVBDQ-Ch1W1AlK#v=onepage&q=was milton friedman a tenured professor&f=false
    p.146

    You would think that he would have accepted having, say, other professors, or his students decide whether his contract should be renewed at the end of every semester, or at least at the end of every year on the job.

    But how is this intrinsic to governments? It seems more of a quality associated to people in general.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  18. Oct 14, 2015 #17

    russ_watters

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    I agree, but don't see the relevance of that point.
     
  19. Oct 14, 2015 #18

    WWGD

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    I was initially addressing what I thought was a " government can do no good" stance by DEvens.
    EDIT: I have never seen a situation where lack of authority has led to a natural order that can be said to be better that the order that may emerge from having ( a reasonable) authority (AFAIK, this is the Libertarian position): unmoderated websites are garbage, playgrounds, etc.
     
  20. Oct 14, 2015 #19

    russ_watters

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    Yes, I know: I don't see how that point relates to this issue. Since I'm having to reach here, I'll give it a shot and you can tell me how I did: You begrudgingly agree with the point, but don't like it for philosophical reasons, so you are trying to argue around it by saying other human pursuits share similar failings. Am I close?
     
  21. Oct 14, 2015 #20

    Mark44

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    They offered him a job -- he took it -- so what? I don't doubt that his position on tenure has changed in the slightest. I too had a tenured position, although at a community college rather than a university, but I resigned my position to get what I considered a better job. IMO, an unintended consequence of tenure in teaching is to make it nearly impossible to fire incompetent teachers.

    I believe this is the "straw man" argument that DEvens referred to. The argument is not living in a system with a government vs living in an anarchy, but instead, what level of government becomes too much. This is a fine point that the framers of the US Constitution struggled with.

    @WWGD and @DEvens (and especially DEvens), let's keep the discussion civil, or else we authoritarian types will have to step in. Just sayin'.
     
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