Is Recycling Worth It? | WYPR

Is Recycling Worth It?

Jun 16, 2016

Credit Tom Magliery/Flickr via Creative Commons

Paper, soda cans, old electronics. For both environmental and economic reasons it is incredibly valuable to recycle these products. But glass, even plastic? Not so much. Broken-down bottles are often exported overseas, burning more fossil fuels than are saved by recycling them, and it's cheaper to just make new ones. Cities across the United States are adopting zero-waste initiatives, aiming to eventually divert all waste to recycling and compost facilities. But, is more recycling always better? We speak to a critic who argues that some recycling comes with unjustifiable environmental and economic costs. He believes that our commitment to this practice may be holding us back from pursuing more valuable environmental goals. Is it time to rethink recycling?

Our guest: Professor Thomas Kinnaman, chair of the economics department at Bucknell University.