GRN Recycle Talk FAQ

Date: Tue Mar 16 1999 - 10:42:29 EST

Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 10:42:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Recycling, How far should we go (Yvette Sheridan)

March 16, 1999

Dear Yvette Sheridan,

The prevailing thing about recycling is that no one size fits every circumstance. If a resource that is sufficiently expensive to manufacture from virgin materials, with sufficient environmental pollution and pollution control, and energy expenditure, to warrant limiting that happening as much as possible by using recycled raw materials instead or in addition, from both an economic and an environmental standpoint, then recycling makes sense.
If there is, on the other hand, no markets for the products that recycled raw materials are made into, the recycling of that recycled raw material into that product doesn't make sense, or doesn't make sense yet.
My 'smart ass' answer initially, also has some validity: How far should we go? Oh, about 20 miles. There are many hidden costs of recycling. If the end user is far away, this lessens the value of recycling from a full cost accounting and life cycle standpoint (which is the real methodology to evaluate the answer to your question: when it should and shouldn't be done). Transport costs for example, lessen the economic AND environmental sense of recycling, when, for example, the end user for all of the US for aluminum cans are 3 huge virgin and/or recycled aluminum manufacturing plants which must be driven/shipped to by an entire large nation. In Galway, this might not be as much of a problem.

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