Tuesday, November 06, 2007

On Recycling

I viewed this Penn and Teller program on recycling earlier, and although I got the point, I didn't take it that seriously, but I bought a home recently, and I was going through the new bills that are associated with it, and it really got me thinking how tenuous much of the basis for recycling is, at least from an economic standpoint. Every month I have to write a check for garbage disposal, which includes a payment for the company to take away the sorted recycling goods. Now this is simple supply and demand, if the raw materials present in the recycling bin actually represented an economic benefit, they would have value, and rather than me having to pay for the company to take them away, they would be paying me to allow them to have these resources. Nobody has to pay, after all, to compel a paper company to harvest trees for a pulp mill.

Now this does not mean that there are not some sort of environmental externalities involved, but if there are, then that should be handled through some sort of tax system, not silly ways of making people feel guilty for not sorting their garbage, and then forcing them to pay for it to be taken away regardless.