January 14, 2020

ACTUALLY, THIS IS A NO-BRAINER: Recycling is becoming so expensive that some towns don’t know what to do. The Boston Globe mournfully reports on the agonizing decision facing Westfield, Massachusetts:

 On a recent afternoon here, with urgency in the air, local officials huddled to consider what until recently was unthinkable. Should they abandon their popular curbside recycling program? Or spend millions to build a plant to process plastic and paper on their own?

With the recycling market across the country mired in crisis, a growing number of cities and towns are facing a painful reckoning: whether they can still afford to collect bottles, cans, plastics, and paper, which have so plummeted in value that in some cases they have become effectively worthless.

“We’re looking at going from paying nothing to paying $500,000 a year,” said Dave Billips, the director of public works in Westfield, referring to the city’s recycling costs. “That’s going to have a major impact.”

Like his fellow devotees, Billips is understating the problem by pretending his recycling program used to break even just because it was able to give away the recyclables. He’s ignoring all the extra money that the town had to spend to collect the worthless stuff, not to mention the value of the time its citizens wasted sorting their garbage. The cheapest way to dispose of solid waste is to collect it all in one truck, send it straight to the landfill, and stop forcing people to perform greens’ favorite sacrament.

Who could have seen this coming?


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