Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

Ecologic Regurgitant

what is what isn't being recycled? we need to know before voting on this

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 20, 1994.

Here in Boulder, controversy swirls around re-cycling again as a commercial enterprise, Western Disposal, proposes a recycling center that would compete with the saintly Eco-Cycle, the volunteer, non-profit organization that has been handling Boulder’s recyclables for years. If Western builds this center with its own money on its own land, there is little incentive for the city to go through with a tax increase for a new, improved Eco-Cycle. This has raised neck hair and eyebrows, because Western will take only the profitable recyclables and leave Eco-Cycle with newsprint and nuclear waste. There is a great misconception about re-cycling, about what is and what is not being recycled, and what the term means. It is also unclear if the public understands that the energy and material to recycle something might be more wasteful than making a new item.

You may be shocked to discover that out of paper, glass, and cardboard, as of last year only cardboard was both profitable and worthwhile to recycle. This is certainly annoying to those of you who divide your glass, or listen to Boulder Bars dumping their beer bottles into containers at all hours. The glass is regionally recycled at Coors...... but it really is not. According to my sources, Coors only re-cycles the glass of the color of its bottles, and then just tosses the rest. It only takes the other glass as a community benefit and to encourage re-cycling. Whereas before, the garbage truck would swing by and take the glass and everything else to the landfill, now we have two trucks, garbage and glass. Glass goes to local recycling center where another truck picks it up and takes it to the rendering plant. There most of the glass heads for another dump. For an increase in energy spent, fuel burned, and hours wasted, the population has fooled itself again. If this is ecology, it certainly isn’t what it was when I was younger.

Eco-Cycle, like all non-profits, has become a local jobs program. It is an entrenched mini-bureacracy that would have the public believe that most of it’s work leads to the saving of energy and natural resources, but the reality is somewhat different. And like virtually all ecology groups, at least those that are not just laundering devices for international drug money, they are most vectored in on preserving their jobs. And the fact is, where would some of the truck drivers, garbage sorters, and dispatchers work if not at a re-cycling center?

If people were truly interested in saving, let us say, trees that go for newsprint, the way to do it is to get all newspapers to use recycled paper. A lot of it, not these skimpy percentages they brag about because of coloring concerns. As the computer age brings Prodigy news and other on-line delivery systems into each home, the future of papers is not bright and likely to be brutally quick in its demise. So for the remaining few years, what prevents us from passing legislation, or working for such, that would demand all daily and weekly publications use huge amounts, not convenient amounts, of recyclables? Well, that would demand highly educated, highly energetic lobbyists to work the corridors of power. It deprive the other end of the current food chain of jobs and status. So the result is, the last thing the so-called recycling operations want is a national policy depriving them of jobs, or an interim step of commercial entities doing a better job.

And of course, like everything else, unless the population decreases, not just ceases to grow, all of this is ridiculous anyway.

It would be nice to see Boulder take both a stand on re-cycling by addressing the root causes, which are over-population and no market for the products. Not press release goodies, but hard ass and meaningful, things that would be totally unpopular. If the Daily Camera had to use 75% re-cycled paper, if only recyclable beer bottles could be sold within the County limits, if all paper and plastic products had to be biodegradable within a six month period. Really, do newspapers have to last more than 24 hours in the age of computers? One thing is for sure: any process that increases the number of jobs is both inefficient and un-ecologic.