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Time to recycle recycling?

Original post made by Jane, Professorville, on Jun 16, 2008

One of the curious things about global warming alarmism is that so many of the other features of traditional environmentalism are actually at odds with it.
Nuclear power is perhaps the best source of low carbon electricity. Genetically modified organisms can dramatically lower the energy needed to grow crops.
And in fact, striking at the base of institutionalized environmentalism, it appears recycling can produce more carbon than new manufacture.

Recycling paper is actually a carbon positive process.
Fossil fuels are required to de-ink recovered paper and sanitize paper headed for close consumer use. Compare this to virgin trees - which produce no net carbon provided a new tree is planted to replace each one that is harvested, as is generally the case.

Contrary to received wisdom, paper is one of the least recyclable materials in circulation.
Each time paper is recycled, it loses part of its physical construction. Structure is crucial to paper's performance - lose it, and performance plummets.

Paper is often recycled far more than once.
According to a study for the Corporate Forum on Paper and the Environment, the first time paper is recycled, it retains about 85 percent of its strength.
By the time it is recycled the sixth time, that drops to 38 percent. Yet each time, it is using the same energy and emitting more and more carbon for the value you get from it.

This makes very little sense from an environmental point of view.
In fact, recycling of the type that is so common - the curbside pick-up, the "green bins" - can be counterproductive. Web Link

Comments (6)

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Posted by Not convinced
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2008 at 3:52 pm

OK, so we don't recycle, where are you going to put all the garbage you recommend we just throw away?

Like this comment
Posted by WarningWillRobinson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 16, 2008 at 9:11 pm

This is just more empty anti-environmentalism rhetoric - the weblink given at the end goes to the notorious Reverend Sun Young Moon's Washington Times rag of a paper and it's a column written by a psuedo-intellectual at The Competitive Enterprise Institute (i.e., the "Big Business First, Second and Always" Institute).

Just ignore, don't engage - it's not worth your time or effort.

Like this comment
Posted by AL
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 17, 2008 at 4:26 am

The only thing worth recycling is Aluminum. Everything is a waste of time and actually takes more energy to recycle than it saves - unfortunately it is not PC to say this.

It takes a lot of electricity to make AL - everytime a can of AL ends up in trash it is electicity lost for good.

If you do not recycle - do Earth a favor by recycling Aluminum.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2008 at 8:54 am

Had the Bay Area continued with the Excess Express, a plan to haul our garbage by train up to the Black Rock desert, we not only would have saved worry about disposal sites for a thousand years, we would have saved the Western Pacific Railroad. I believe some North West states are sending their garbage there by train.

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm

But back then only the hippie liberal environmentalists thought we'd run short of dump space here. Score one for the envirolibs?

Like this comment
Posted by Walter E. Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2008 at 9:45 am

They were as wrong then as they are now.

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