Economics

Why Recycling is a Scam (sort of)

So we all hear in our public school classes the ‘importance’ of recycling and shown pictures of the Amazon Forest being chopped down. Of course lack of property rights in the Amazon isn’t mentioned at all, just used as a emotional string to pull with people who like ‘the environment’.

Many cities now give you a recycling bin in which it will go and collect once you put in on the side of your curb or in your alleyway. Either way, there is a huge campaign to push the idea of recycling. And fundamentally I have no problem with people voluntarily going out of their way to put their paper in the recycle bin or what not. If you want there to be less trees then do it.

Most paper comes from either tree farms grown specifically for paper and other things, and second growth forest. Meaning trees replanted after a forest is chopped down to replace the old trees. In both cases, if you stop using paper you would 1) have less tree farms and thereby less trees and 2) have less replanting and cultivating of loss forest areas and thus again less trees. In both cases you have less trees. So go ahead and recycle if you want less trees.

Also we can look at the resource side of recycling. Unless you’re being paid to recycle then you’re using more resources than it costs to just throw it away. If recycling has to be subsidized by the government than it shows that it isn’t an efficient market outcome. You might be better off just throwing things away so less energy is used, and it can be put in a landfill to help make natural gas.

 

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