Aluminum? Definitely. Steel? Sure. Glass? probably. Paper? Cool. Plastic? shrug.
So he was not concerned about recycling at all.
Then if someone comes up with a more effective method to recycle plastic, there it all is in one place, not mixed in with banana peels and old furniture.
Accurately sorting materials is one of the bigger problems in recycling right now.
For plastic than can be separated into their specific types reliably enough, that does kinda make sense. But (guessing here) the heating process itself would take a bunch of energy and likely cost.
Also, it'd only work for thermoplastics. Anything that thermosets instead would have to be treated differently as well.
Recycling is a tactic. Without a strategy, a tactic often won't work and can even be counterproductive.
Reducing production is a strategy. We should always focus first on the strategy, then tactics.
I recorded a podcast episode on reducing being strategic and efficiency being tactical https://shows.pippa.io/leadership-and-the-environment/episod....
It’s never made sense since day 1. As a kid, I couldn’t figure out how the hell recycling was working because everywhere I saw, all the recycling “policies” were being violated, and unless there was a massive team at the recycling center re-sorting it all, it made no sense why we had to sort it in the first place.
Turns out, it was just getting dumped in China. Reducing consumption is the only solution.
Most recycling programs in the U.S. are little more than a social experiment at this point.
In some ways I think this situation has been exacerbated by proponents of plastic who have marketed it as "infinitely recyclable" for many years. That statement is technically true, in that there exists a process by which you can take post consumer plastic and reduce it back to its component parts for re-use. At the same time it ignores the reality that 'original' plastic, as the end product of a chemical process, is quite pure.
Thus when you build a system that uses plastic to create products, if you build it to assume the purity levels of pre-consumer plastic, then the onus is on the recycler to create the same level of purity. Estimates on the cost of doing that range from 10x to 100x the cost of creating plastic out of raw pre-cursor chemicals. The reality is that there isn't a market for $20 coffee cups over $2 coffee cups because they are "100% post consumer".
I think getting the discussion on to a more realistic footing is a good one. It is much easier to make policy when you have a shot at working with markets rather than against them.
To that end, incinerating plastic to generate energy makes a lot of policy sense in a 'peaker' plant. It isn't "reused" in the sense of making more product but it does give additional benefit to the consumer.
I am also a proponent of structural re-use of post consumer plastics. It has good insulation value, especially when foamed, and building engineered walls with the post-consumer plastic providing a better than air insulation layer has a durable long term effect of reducing baseline energy load which goes to environmental control (heating/cooling) in buildings.
It violates the stories that people have been told that their shopping bags will be infinitely recycled into new shopping bags, but it feels to me as a much more authentic way to represent recycling.
Plastic cups cost about a penny to manufacture (at least I can buy 1000 for £10). Many people will certainly pay 10p for recycled cups, and possibly more.
Wouldn't the flammability of plastic make this a non-starter?
Whilst I don't disagree, I do have concerns A) That the need for fuel will see unsuitable material diverted to incineration. B) That to help with the payback, it wont just be run as a peaker. C) That it will be sold by politicians as a solution, rather than the least worst option.
Basically it's the same dynamic as waste to power plants.
I think the solution is to be careful about what we make from plastic, and what kinds of plastics we use in that case. If we don't waste in the first place, there is no need to recycle anything. And if we do need to make something disposable, we can use something that is economic to recycle, like aluminum or glass. It's really just plastic that's the problem, glass bottles are easy to reuse and aluminum cans can be melted down into aluminum that's just as good as non-recycled aluminum. (Maybe the energy cost of all that melting is high, but I think we are making strides towards more and more renewable electricity, so we might be better off using electricity instead of plastic.)
In the U.K. (at least a few years ago) councils (ie local authorities) are supposed to try to meet targets for recycling. These come in various kinds:
1. Targets for the percentage of their waste that is recycleable
2. Targets for the percentage of the waste that is recycled
3. Targets for the total quantity of kinds of unrecycleable waste
Part 1 generally means trying to reduce the amount of non-recycleable waste that is produced. Partly this can be done by reducing waste in general, and partly by ensuring that waste is better categorised (in the EU there is a complicated categorisation scheme of waste, so eg hardcore is treated differently to various plastics which are different from food or batteries. Some categories are hazardous and have to be treated differently and may only be sent to certain facilities)
Part 2 generally means trying to increase the available facilities to recycle that waste (and decrease the capacity for recycleable waste )
Part 3 is generally about trying to guess how much waste will be produced (eg population/large construction predictions)
 in the eu waste is typically handled by companies where one must pay a fee (or sell—the fee may be negative) for another company to handle the waste. By reducing the supply of landfill (or by giving incentives for recycling), the price for recycling can become low enough that it is preferable. If the price decreases sufficiently then further sorting of mixed waste may become profitable. In general the main method for trying to control recycling is trying to change market conditions (ie prices) rather than trying to impose and distribute quotas. There are various arguments among economists about which method is better (and whether the methods are actually different). Success is measured by trying to estimate how much of the waste in a local authority is recycled (by asking various waste disposal facilities, assuming no illegal disposal, and somehow figuring out what waste was sourced/handled outside the local authority)
In the UK, incineration (aka Energy from Waste or EfW) is generally considered a “good” kind of waste disposal but slightly less good than recycling.
It's literally oil. It belongs in the ground.
Or we can burn it for energy, and then do carbon sequestration, in which case it'll need to end up back in the ground.
It says most plastics end up in incineration.
It also says plastics are separated using infrared technology.
I wonder if it is far from imagination to regulate the types of plastics available for use. What if all plastics for all single use purposes were restricted to a single kind of plastic.
When a country like India is taking steps to ban single use plastics (I think from October 2019), why cant more developed countries / rich economies do the same?
Cities that implement 10 cent bag fee have succeeded in reducing the use of plastic carry bags.
Similarly bans on single use plastics will go a long way.
But the more such articles I read, I feel like an idiot when I segregate recyclables and trash
It's a violation of HN etiquette to accuse people not not reading the articles.
Apparently the companies use artful language to imply certain processes without specifically naming them:
"All three companies make green promises on their websites and in promotional videos, using buzzwords like "sustainability" and "environmental solutions." One Waste Connections video goes as far as to say, "sustainability and becoming more green … have been hallmarks and backbones of Waste Connections from the day we formed the company."
But if any company specifically contracted for recycling and did not recycle, it is a breach of contract with possible repercussions.
Recycling requires that the materials return to the market at a certain point, but it does not require a short window of time between collection and processing of materials.
This is where some creative lawyering can go a long way: if you can say that you're going to process it at some indefinite point in the future, you're not comitting fraud unless the contract defines an specific time limit, specific technical processes, and an specific destination for the processed materials.
I don't think commercial contracts that meet all these criteria are viable at scale.
You can defend a position without snidely representing other positions, similar or opposite to yours, but if you choose to make so, make sure you've correctly named your target.
It's a direct 1 to 1 reduction in oil usage.
Burning plastic is what we should be doing.
And I suppose pumping co2 into the atmosphere is to keep future generations nice and warm? And we're helpfully clearing the rainforests for them too.
Not sure what's going on in this picture. Can I hazard a guess - the "tracking device" is a cheap smartphone?