The ugly truth is that many “recyclables” sent to recycling plants are never recycled. The worst is plastic. Even Greenpeace now says, “Plastic recycling is a dead-end street.”
…It would be smarter to just dump our garbage in landfills.
People think landfills are horrible polluters. But they’re not. Regulations (occasionally, government regulations are actually useful) make sure today’s landfills have protective barriers so they don’t leak.
Eventually, landfills are turned into good things: ski hills, parks and golf courses.
But aren’t we running out of landfill space? For years, alarmist media said we were. But that’s not true.
Published June 30, 1996.
Believing that there was no more room in landfills, Americans concluded that recycling was their only option. Their intentions were good and their conclusions seemed plausible. Recycling does sometimes makes sense — for some materials in some places at some times. But the simplest and cheapest option is usually to bury garbage in an environmentally safe landfill. And since there’s no shortage of landfill space (the crisis of 1987 was a false alarm), there’s no reason to make recycling a legal or moral imperative. Mandatory recycling programs aren’t good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups — politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations — while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources.
The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech.