If You Signal Virtue In The Woods, But Nobody Is Listening, Did It Exist?

Baltimore admits it hasn’t actually recycled glass in seven years…

…but tells everyone to keep separating their trash:

Steve Lafferty, county sustainability officer, said it’s true the county has not recycled the material since 2013, the year it also opened a $23 million single-stream recycling facility in Cockeysville. Lafferty was hired to the newly created sustainability position in September 2019…Over the years, the county’s Department of Public Works encountered technical and financial limitations that meant it could no longer recycle glass at county municipal facilities.

But while separating glass from garbage won’t result in any recycling at all, it will keep a bunch of public employees working, and donating dues to their public employee union, thus keeping money coming to the Maryland Democrat Party.

20 thoughts on “If You Signal Virtue In The Woods, But Nobody Is Listening, Did It Exist?

  1. I remember seeing a glass crusher in Waseca when I visited the recycling center. I asked whether it was OK to mix brown and green, and they confessed they were using it as road aggregate. As I saw my tires wear out more quickly than before, I was not exactly thankful.

    In other words, this is nationwide.

  2. The heavily subsidized “recycling” industry is way overdue for an expose.
    In my part of the world, they heap recyclable plastics onto freighters & ship them 5,000 miles to China to be “recycled.” I suspect the Chinese are simply throwing them into a landfill.
    Recycling anything is an energy intensive operation. Generating energy generates green house gasses.

  3. MP;

    You have probably seen the news that China toughened up their cleanliness rules for accepting recyclables to be at least 98% clean. Even the environazis don’t know how to recycle properly, i.e. thoroughly rinsing out their ketchup bottles before they throw them into the bin, no greasy pizza boxes or cardboard boxes from frozen foods. There is the argument about how much water is wasted rinsing out those bottles and cans vs the water used to make them, but, as this article illustrates, I doubt that there is as much recycling going on as we are led to believe.

  4. Reminds me of the scrap drives during WW2. Not that I was alive for them, but I recall learning about them in school and from grandparents. And then, hearing that the government just put it in a landfill.

    Kind of like Victory Gardens, the intent was to get people doing things daily to remind them that “we’re at war”. Except, recycling is a different kind of war.

  5. Our recycling bin disappeared on pick-up day three weeks ago. The company suspects the bin was accidentally deposited in the recycling by the automatic arm. (I wonder how long before the company notices). They said they’d send us a new bin right away, but nothing so far. Meanwhile, everything goes into the single garbage bin.

    Come to think of it, it HAS seemed a little warmer the last week.

  6. I have read that glass isn’t worth anything and it is almost better to just crush it into the landfill. My husband has seen the piles of garbage in SE Asia that we call “recycling.” It isn’t just a jobs program here, they are getting paid their $1 or 2 a day to sort through those mountains, too. They’ll never get through it all.

    There really only is a market for aluminum. Maybe plastic can be made into something else, but at what cost in terms of labor, water usage, energy use? It is cheaper and more efficient with new material.

    I am glad more honesty is coming out about recycling really is garbage if no one wants it. Years ago, I asked my local recycling about the market for what they collect, does it stay local or get shipped around. (Shipping adds additional environmental consequences in my opinion). They told me honestly about market ups and downs, and use of what they collect. However, when I wrote about it publicly on a website, they wrote me a nasty message telling me they thought I just wanted to know for my own interest. If they knew I would be publicly sharing their answer, they would have deferred to their PR person. I found that the most revealing of all.

  7. I still believe that the best way to deal with the problem of garbage is the RDF/WtE solution. But the greenies don’t want anything to do with that.

  8. When you force people to engage in labor, it is because they will not due it voluntarily. It has negative value for the worker.
    If you want to see who is making money from recycling, look at who in the business is forced to work for negative value (in this case, ordinary people), and who is fighting for their share of the economic pie (recycling collectors and the politicians they control).
    Where I live, you are not allowed to dispose of certain consumer electronic devices. The company that used to take the electronics (PC’s, phones, televisions) could not make money doing it, so they simply closed up shop. For months you literally could not legally dispose of these devices. Then a new company started up, it directly charges consumers a per-pound rate for disposing of electronic devices. This virtually guarantees that most electronic waste ends up in the landfill.

  9. Personally, my feeling about recycling is that it is/was, with few exceptions, a waste of time and energy (mine and everyone else’s), but I understand the genesis. The amount of plastic crap produced to package this, that, and the other is amazing. And for those sensitive souls who are concerned about where it all goes and how much of it there is, but at the same time, too stupid, ignorant and/or lazy to find out, recycling seems like a great solution. Trouble is, most people are too stupid, ignorant and/or lazy, so recycling is offered (or imposed).

    Nowadays, I look at the recycling bin as just another garbage can into which only certain garbage can be put (we don’t have to sort). But after reading some of the comments above, I am probably less likely to recycle glass about which I had been a good little doggy. No more.

    PS, the RDF/WtE solution?

  10. Another thing I saw at the recycling center; giant bales of used clothing which was increasingly being rejected when it was sent to Africa. Per “shaking”‘s comment about WWII recycling, it appears that the best argument for recycling is metals, and those who think they’re OK to indulge conspicuous consumption (like Faucohontas in her Gulfstream) because they recycle, dream on!

  11. MP
    I would think in the land of volcanoes electronic waste could be dealt with more directly by citizens who don’t want to pay the “Recycling Fee”. Around here its pretty normal to find lonely stretches of country road that will suddenly collect 2, 4, or 200 used tires in the ditches overnight.
    The county eventually comes out and cleans them up. The county put up expensive high end trail camera’s in an effort to capture the culprits but they went missing.

  12. Mac;

    That’s really strange about the tires. Maybe it’s changed with the influence of the environazis, but farmers in SW Minnesota, including ,my uncle, used to used five or six old tires to burn huge piles of corn cobs after shelling their corn at the end of harvest. They would pile the cobs in the middle of a plowed under corn or soybean field and light ’em up. It was a beautiful thing.

  13. My wife winters in Texas. She took me to The Ropa. It’s a warehouse with bales of clothing that you can sort through and purchase by the pound.

    It’s as if everything from Savers or Goodwill was run through a hay baling machine, wrapped up and shipped out. The warehouse guys run a little front-end loader moving bales around and piling up the clothes. Best technique: climb right up on top of the pile about eight feet high, sit on top, and dig for things you might like. I found a golf shirt in my size and perfect condition so I bought it as a souvenir. Cost me 30 cents and an hour of digging.

    We were there as a lark but about a dozen Mexican women were combing through the piles. I suspect they were outfitting families, or possibly looking for stuff to resell. I never did find out what happens to the stuff nobody buys.

  14. Two centuries ago clothes, even poor quality clothes, were very expensive to manufacture. People made their “small clothes” (aka “underwear”) out of the rags of their out-worn outer clothes. When rags were completely useless, they were made into paper.
    People did this “recycling” because it was in their economic interest to do so. Landfills are proven solution. If you are worried about the runoff & seepage into the water table, put your landfill in a place where the ground is nonpermeable, and build a plant to treat the water. Disposal of most waste is inexpensive.
    Yet it has been my experience that the higher the education level, the more the person is pro-recycling. It makes no rational sense; paying ten cents to recycle a bottle that can be made from scratch for 3 cents is just stupid.

  15. BH
    hereabouts the smoke plume and smell from burning tires is sure to attract the moral indignation of some progressive retiree from the TC who calls the DNR and you get a ticket.
    But Tires do have a diversionary value if you are involved in a SSS (Shoot,Shovel,Shutup) activity – dig the hole about 8ft down, put in whatever you want, shovel in about 2 ft of dirt, then throw in a layer of tires then fill in the rest of the dirt. Local LEOs will dig down to the tires, assume you are hiding them illegally, take them out, ticket you and leave you to fill in the rest of the hole.

  16. jdm: “PS, the RDF/WtE solution?” Refuse Derived Fuel / Waste to Energy.

    It definitely works, several plants operating around the TC including one in downtown Mpls.

  17. Thanks, Scott. I thought it might be that, but I couldn’t find a good match for the acronyms.

    I do know it works – however – the RDF plant in Elk River has recently closed and apparently will also be demolished. I know one of the people who worked there, someone senior, and it was explained that the closure is because the plant couldn’t get enough refuse to make a profit (or even ends meet). Apparently (ie, what I was told), the corporation that owns the local landfill played hardball with the RDF plant and was able to divert a lot of refuse to the landfill instead. The state wouldn’t step in to rectify what were, um, irregularities. There are/were perhaps other issues as well, but I am unaware of them.

    The whole thing reminded me that garbage hauling and the mafia have traditionally been linked out east (NB, it just reminded me, this is not an accusation).

    BTW, that plant in ER was built on what used to be a historic experimental nuclear power plant from back in the 60s.

  18. Given that garbage is largely air space and “wet” things, I have to wonder whether “waste to energy” is actually cost effective anymore. Yes, you theoretically get it for free or less (given that the alternative is just putting things in the landfill and paying to do so), but I have to wonder if the extra “scrubbing” and handling you need to do–probably including some toxic ash handling–actually might make it cheaper to simply put it in a landfill.

  19. I know the GRE/ER plant quite well as a contractor on the service and repair of the turbine/generators going back some 40 years. GRE/ER spent a ton or money on maintaining the plant from the time it was converted from a coal plant to a RDF burning facility. Sad to know it’s closed down.

    I my mind landfill is only a good option until it becomes land full.

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