What recycling is

“… some things just annoy me to the point of distraction. A case in point being companies selling products by proclaiming their materials are easily recyclable, especially when their own product does not include any of these very same materials… you are only recycling when you are buying recycled. For example, it is a cop-out for Apple to claim, as part of the green credentials for their new MacBook Air, that its (unibody) enclosure is “highly recyclable” aluminium. If they really wanted to make a definitive stand on recycling, then all they had to do… was ensure that it is made from post-consumer recycled drink cans or pre-loved laptops… recycling aluminium saves 95% of the energy, and 95% in carbon dioxide emissions, compared to virgin production… (and) worldwide, the aluminium industry uses as much electric power as the entire continent of Africa.”

“The problem with recycling is that it’s not only the original material that gets recycled, it’s all the things that go into the recycling process with that material. So if an aluminum can has paint on it, that goes into the process and the paint degrades the quality of the recycled material. Therefore, recycling is not a loop, because it can only be recycled a finite amount of times. This means that recycling is really, just putting off how long the thing waits to go to the landfill.”

“Tetra Pak cartons (aseptic packaging that can keep milk fresh for months without refrigeration) are fully recyclable, which unfortunately does not mean much in locations where carton recycling facilities do not exist… only 20% of America has access to recycling facilities for Tetra Pak, the rest goes into landfill… can a Tetra Pak be made into another Tetra Pak? No. Tetra Pak is seven incomprehensibly thin layers of paper, plastic and aluminum. The people who try to recycle them use giant blenders to mush the paper pulp off the plastic and metal, then they need to separate the plastic from the metal. What idiot thought this would be a better idea than washing a bottle and refilling it.

… by supporting recycling programs, governments are subsidizing companies like Tetra Pak, who is relieved of part of the cost of packaging disposal. This hidden subsidy penalizes bottlers who offer a refund and refill their bottles. Although selling products in refillable bottles uses energy and material more efficiently, it is made to appear more expensive because all the costs are visible.”

1. ‘Recyclable’ is not recycling, TreeHugger.
2. In what world can you call Tetra Pak green?, TreeHugger.
3. MacBook Air, nikf, Flickr.
4. midnight milk, Solar ikon, Flickr.

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April 18, 2010 · 0 Comments
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