Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Garbage Gods.

I like Penn and Teller. I don't always agree with them, but they say what they think and they make no apology for doing so. I have enormous respect for that, whether I agree with what's being said or not.

In this case, they are right.

Personally, I like recycling. A lot of my lab equipment uses bits and pieces you wouldn't believe. I have a four-place stirrer system based on old laminated flooring and using a broken carbon-fibre fishing rod as a main shaft. I have a motor mounted on the corner of an old window frame. Solid, heavy and guaranteed square. As a motor mount, it's perfect, and it was free.

When government gets involved, it is, as with everything else government gets involved in, a total and absolute fuck-up.

I want to see reduced pollution. I want to see as much as possible recycled and re-used. It will not happen by government diktat. It will only happen by individual ingenuity. Something the current government regards as heresy.

You want maximum recycling? Then you want a free market economy.

Nothing else will work.

12 comments:

Sir Henry Morgan said...

Read this LI?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8503870.stm

TheFatBigot said...

There is a simple way to test whether recycling is effective. Does the council sell the stuff it collects for more than it costs them to collect it? If not, they shouldn't do it.

I find it interesting that people suggest recycling creates jobs. In the film I think they picked on the wrong point here. It was said they are shitty jobs. Maybe they are but they allow people to earn a living who would otherwise be unemployed. It's not for millionaire entertainers to tell unemployed manual workers they mustn't take a job because it's a shitty job.

The real point is that recycling creates a product. This is not a new product, it does not create whole new fields of industry and commerce, it is a substitute for existing raw materials. If the new product gains a foothold in the market, the demand for non-recycled raw materials will decline and jobs will be lost. How many of these "old-fashioned" jobs will go? More or fewer than the number of jobs created in recycling? No one knows. It's not a one-way street.

TheUKLibertarian.com said...

Yeah the point is not that the jobs are shitty (no fun to do) but rather that they are a pointless waste of time and resources (like employing people to clean trees with a toothbrush).

Anonymous said...

Off-topic- I could have guessed this was coming, but still.

Fuck's SAKE.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8503870.stm

Fausty said...

If landfill space is the issue, why doesn't the government put pressure on manufacturers to reduce the amount of packaging that accompanies products, and to once again make good products that last? We didn't have this 'problem' 30 years ago.

View from the Solent said...

OT, but ...
It's begun. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/09/third_hand_smoke/

View from the Solent said...

Fausty, landfill space is not an issue. Every year more holes are dug (sand chalk, gravel, etc, extraction) than there is rubbish produced to fill them. It is a diktat of the EU that we have to pay tax to make use of them.

FB, btw creating jobs is a cost to any process, not a benefit. go and see Timmy
The best approach, as is currently done, is to line the holes, chuck the rubbish in, seal it when complete, and tap the methane produced by decomposition. Then when that's finished, in maybe 20 year's or so, mine what's left for valuable materials. Repeat as necessary.

hangemall said...

Penn and Teller also did one on second-hand smoke, criticising the methods of the Righteous even though they are both non-smokers.

Also, many years ago, I read about a system of geting rid of waste by sticking two big electrodes into into it, putting a huge arc between the electrodes and reducing the waste to a glassy substance. Does anyone know what happened to this?

microdave said...

Fausties comment: "and to once again make good products that last? We didn't have this 'problem' 30 years ago." rings true.

Our Creda tumble drier is nearly 30 years old. All it's needed in that time is a pair of bearings replacing in the motor (cost £5). I can't even remember changing the drive belt.

A simple clockwork timer, and mechanical reversing switch. How many current production machines would have been made and then scrapped in that time?

Mark Wadsworth said...

The Fat Bigot and View From have more or less said everything that I would have said.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Also, I think Fausty misses the point. These people use so much packaging (by and large) because it REDUCES waste (in economic terms), i.e. for five extra grams of packaging you lose fifty grams less of apple (or whatever).

With some items (perfume, My Little Pony etc) the packaging IS the product.

Finally, household waste is only about a quarter of all waste by volume.

Alan said...

No reason they can't have a PP landfill, a PET, a HDPE landfill etc Just get folks to sort and bin separately the way they do now. Whilst I dislike messing with market forces this strikes me as being extremely low cost to the taxpayer compared to current procedure. The dedicated dumps would attract premium prices to mine later.

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