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Recycling doesn't save energ

  1. Aug 14, 2006 #1
    It doesn't save energy. It doesn't save money. It creates filthy jobs. It doesn't save trees. It doesn't improve the environment. It doesn't save landfill space.

    Help me explain this unexplained phenomenon. This is not my beautiful world. :cry:

    Source: Penn & Teller: "Bulls Hit"
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2006 #2

    Mk

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    A lot of things environmentalists dream up are unpractical.
     
  4. Aug 14, 2006 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    A little substance to back up all of this BS would be nice.
     
  5. Aug 14, 2006 #4
    When I was at the recycling plant, they said to recycle an aluminum can requires 10% the energy to make a new one. So I dont know where your getting your information from.
     
  6. Aug 14, 2006 #5
    Can I link to the Penn & Teller episode? It contains a few swear words, but lots of substance, so I was waiting for a moderator's OK. Here it is, since you asked. o:)

    Penn & Teller episode on Recycling

    That's exactly right, cyrus. I forgot to write the words "except aluminum." Paper and plastic unfortunately don't have the same energy requirements.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2006
  7. Aug 15, 2006 #6
    Energy isn't the only concern.
    What about the trees?

    I know they mention that forestry companies replant, but a tree plantation is not a forest.
     
  8. Aug 15, 2006 #7
    Ivan, is recycling not something that people are skeptically debunking?* How else can we explain its existence if it doesn't do anything?

    And? I don't catch your meaning. Are forests endangered? In my home state of Wisconsin, we are always experiencing problems with forest and wildlife overgrowth. People will plant fewer tree plantations if there isn't demand for them. Trees are a renewable resource, as are forests, and anything else that grows and lives in them.


    *Except aluminum
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2006
  9. Aug 15, 2006 #8

    FredGarvin

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    A lot of plastics get recycled into items like carpets and mats. Energy consumption may be one aspect of recycling, but the bigger part is slowing down the use of raw materials (petroleum based) which I think it does help do.

    Also, creating jobs is pretty much a good thing, whether dirty or not.
     
  10. Aug 15, 2006 #9
    the biggest issue at hand is whether or not recycling produces the same carbon dioxide emissions as producing new materials.

    Of course if it's the case that they produce just as much co2, then recycling is all but a waste - although no more harmful than the actual creation-from-scratch of certain materials. In that case, the economic benefits will outweigh any environmental considerations and we should continue on our merry way.

    If it's MORE harmful than producing new materials we should stop.

    The very notion of recycling seems silly to me. It's nothing more than a bandaid trying to fill the gap in a dam. What is needed is a more radical shift. Our way of life, especially here in the USA, is unsustainable. Until people realize this, all the recycling in the world isn't going to make a dent in our CO2 emissions.

    Off topic, I'd also like to point out a personal pet peeve. I went to a fairly liberal college, where just about everyone recycled. What really upset me is that these same people would gratuitously waste fresh water. Some environmentalists...
     
  11. Aug 15, 2006 #10

    FredGarvin

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    I can't say that I agree with the idea behind recycling is the reduction of CO2 emissions. It was always my impression (and flawed it may be) that the recycling idea was an effort to reduce trash in landfills and to help reduce the demand for raw materials.

    Honestly, people can wrap up recycling into whatever package they want. From a practical standpoint, if something is reuseable, then we should reuse it. Why create unnecessary waste?
     
  12. Aug 15, 2006 #11

    Moonbear

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    If you chose to ignore every environmental argument, you still have the issue of landfills. Keeping that trash out of landfills means existing landfills remain open longer, otherwise, where is the trash going to go? Nobody wants a new landfill in their town...most people don't even want the existing landfills in their town! I grew up in a town that hosted a landfill, and as more and more communities reached capacity in their landfills, ours grew faster and faster, and every time we thought it was due to reach capacity and close, they'd extend the permits to a new level because, IIRC, the next closest place that would accept our trash was in Ohio (I was in NJ); all the other closer landfills were facing the same problems and wouldn't accept trash from any new communities.
     
  13. Aug 16, 2006 #12

    Mk

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    Why unnecessarily reuse? You don't do either one.
     
  14. Aug 16, 2006 #13

    FredGarvin

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    What do you mean? "Unnecessarily reuse?"
     
  15. Aug 16, 2006 #14

    Gokul43201

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    They have two arguments against this:

    1. It only takes a single landfill of size 35mi*35 mi to take all the trash made in the US over the next several decades to come.

    2. Landfills can actually be good things. They show an example of a closed subterranean landfill that has a park (or golf course) built over it. The methane emissions from decomposition are harvested to genrate power. The landfill has a superthick, impervious floor that prevents contamination of the water table. It's all good...or so they say.
     
  16. Aug 16, 2006 #15

    Bystander

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    Neither --- it's about cost of the refined product; melt the locomotive, tractor, model T, cast iron stove, whatever, rather than spending the money to mine Mesabi, ship it the length of the Great Lakes, haul in coal, coke it, haul in limestone, pour the iron, refine it. Recycling iron pays off big time, always has; recycling paper is iffy, depends an awful lot on how clean the feedstock is kept; the rest of it looks good on paper, can be made to look good on company ledgers in special cases (Ball and Al from clean waste in the can plants), but in general is more an expense than a savings (cans from trash, ditches, and other post-consumer sources are contaminated enough with sand, dirt and other silicon sources that they're useless for anything but rocket fuel). Spend 10-20 cents a pound sorting plastics that you produce for 2-5 cents? Not a winner without slave, or convict, labor --- and the supervision and inspection costs are still gonna eat you alive.
     
  17. Aug 16, 2006 #16

    Moonbear

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  18. Aug 16, 2006 #17

    Chi Meson

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    "Reduce, reuse, recycle"

    Note the order.

    I'm still convinced that "resource recovery" (burning trash for electricity) is the most environmentally friendly and efficient use for all trash.
     
  19. Aug 16, 2006 #18

    Gokul43201

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    There's a video you can watch. Until at least two-thirds the way through the show, they do not make one single complete argument! Makes you want to chuck your trash at them. Finally, in the last few minutes, they make some arguments - whether or not they carry water, I can't judge, but at least there was finally an argument.

    They had a number for the height. It was something like 10 feet, or a few tens of feet, or somesuch.

    They don't have to become parks or golf courses. Their argument they were trying to make was that the land above the fill was not a stinky, dirty place and could be used most nearly any way you want.

    They used to do this a few miles south of here, until a few years ago. I think they've now shut down the plants - I'm not sure what the reasons were.
     
  20. Aug 16, 2006 #19

    ShawnD

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    I too think this is a great idea. We have garbage, we need energy, why not burn garbage for energy?
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2006
  21. Aug 16, 2006 #20

    Moonbear

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    At least one of the links I provided points out that it can't be used for much more than that. Because of the uneven settling as trash decomposes at different rates, and the risk of trapped methane seeping in unpredictable directions, you can't put buildings on it. And, of course, you need to find enough soil to cover the entire thing with a layer 6 feet thick to cap it and keep the odor from seeping out.

    Anyway, yeah, I think I'll just revert to...it's Penn and Teller, they're comedians, not scientists.
     
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