[Ed. – But, as Kyle Smith recounts, it makes people feel virtuous — apparently more virtuous the more onerous and labor-intensive it gets.]
It may make sense to recycle a few items for the savings in carbon emissions — paper, cardboard, and metals such as aluminum from cans. Recycling a ton of these items saves about three tons of carbon dioxide. Glass, plastic, rubber, all the other stuff? Not really. … “Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.” Some municipalities are directing those recycling trucks to the nearest incinerator. A transfer station in New Hampshire reports that sending rubbish to a landfill costs $68 a ton. Recycling it? That costs $125 a ton. Wasn’t recycling supposed to save us money, not cost twice as much?
The environmental cost of trash has been oversold. All of the trash Americans produce over the next millennium would fit on one-tenth of 1 percent of the land available for grazing, and lots of rural communities are open for business when it comes to accepting urban rubbish. There is no landfill shortage.