“Recycling” vs Zero-Waste

This is a repost of a short article by Paul Palmer (see link at end).

Moving company to offer electronics recycling services (from Waste & Recycling News)
July 20, 2009 — NorthStar Moving Corp. is partnering with E-Cycle Environmental to offer electronics recycling services to its customers.Individuals who are moving can request the service from NorthStar, a Los Angeles-based moving company. E-Cycle Environmental employees will pick up old electronics, such as computers, televisions, batteries and other devices. The Los Angeles-area based electronics recycler will recycle the items and guarantees it will not export material to developing countries.
“Most people, during the course of their move, throw out more stuff than at any other time of the year,” said Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar moving. “We know our clients don´t just want to throw things in the garbage to end up in a landfill. They are not interested in faux-green, they want a truly green solution.”

You notice that there is no indication of what they WILL do with the goods, only what they WON’T do. This is the mendacious state of faux recycling today. There is actually no such thing as the workmanlike recycling of electronic parts. This is the elephant in the room that every recycler and politician wants to ignore. There is only the low grade chopping and burning that goes on in China and Africa. What goes on in Arizona is similar but a bit less smoky. Everyone rushes to condemn these as “bad recycling”  but you will not find one article anywhere proposing an alternative. There isn’t one – (well there could be but you won’t find it in use anywhere). And yet most articles on the subject are packed with pious invocations of “proper recycling” as though it existed.

It’s like the clean coal initiative. There is no such thing as carbon dioxide sequestration and won’t be, at least until Peter Pan and Tinkerbell come out of hiding to run for elected office. But it is wonderful for propaganda.

Hydrogen fuel cells are another one. Hydrogen is not a “fuel” but it’s wonderful to be able to point out that the product is water. As if that mattered. What is produced where the hydrogen is made? That’s the magician’s hand to keep an eye on.
On the other hand, Zero Waste approaches have no problem coming up with effective, realistic plans for reusing electronic parts and for targeted research programs for new and better methods. The usual principles, outlined on the Zero Waste Institute website apply. Modularization, standardization, keeping dissimilar materials separated and more. All design involves parameters that are usually decided on in favor of wasting because it is made so easy.
Paul Palmer


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