Lets call recycling what it is- a fraud, a sham, a scam perpetrated by big business on the citizens and municipalities of America. Look who sponsors the National Recycling Coalition: behind America Recycles Day: Coca-Cola, Pepsico, Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Owens-Illinois, International Bottled Water Association, the same people who brought you that other fraud, Keep America Beautiful.
Recycling is simply the transfer of producer responsibility for what they produce to the taxpayer who has to pick it up and take it away.
Heather Rogers wrote in "Message in a bottle" about how they did this. The Keep America Beautiful campaign started a few years after the introduction of disposable bottles in the early 1950s. Soon bottles were everywhere and states were considering bans on disposables. So American Can, Owens-Illinois and Coke got together to basically invent the concept of litter. They said "packages don't litter, people do." (sound familiar?)
KAB downplayed industry's role in despoiling the earth, while relentlessly hammering home the message of each person's responsibility for the destruction of nature, one wrapper at a time. ....KAB was a pioneer in sowing confusion about the environmental impact of mass production and consumption.
Then in the 80s the industry faced another challenge; the landfill crises that led to recycling. Heather Rogers writes:
"All this eco-friendly activity put business and manufacturers on the defensive. With landfill space shrinking, new incinerators ruled out, water dumping long ago outlawed and the public becoming more environmentally aware by the hour, the solutions to the garbage disposal problem were narrowing. Looking forward, manufacturers must have perceived their range of options as truly horrifying: bans on certain materials and industrial processes; production controls; minimum standards for product durability."
Perhaps even legislation demanding deposits and returnable bottles. Suddenly, the manufacturers became ardent supporters of recycling.
So cities have to go out and buy fancy trucks to keep it all separate;
and have to pay people to pick litter off the street.
It has even got to the point where the governments cannot afford to pay for it anymore, so citizens now have the honor of going out and doing it themselves.
All because Coke and Bud and Coors and the glass companies convinced us that they don't fit in the circle of producer responsibility, where products are designed to be taken back.
So let's remove recycling from the three R's; it doesn't belong there, use "repair" instead. Let's demand returnable bottles and deposits on everything and let's celebrate Zero Waste Day on November 15 with a returnable bottle of beer.