Three Reasons Recycling Sucks

Calgary, AB, Canada

We’re going to come right out and say it: recycling sucks.
Wait, what? 
That’s right, we’re a company based around hauling your waste and recycling, and we just said recycling sucks.
You should definitely still recycle, but we’re looking at a bit of a better-than-nothing scenario here. So let’s break it down: what’s going on with recycling?

1. Recycling sucks because…it’s actually “downcycling”

True recycling is what the word says: re-cycling a resource. That means, for example, you take a sheet of paper, and put it in the recycling bin. Then it gets processed and turned back into a new sheet of paper of exactly the same quality. And that you can keep doing that forever. Unfortunately, that’s essentially never the case. For paper, each time a sheet of paper is recycled, a small percentage of the fibers in the paper are lost, and they degrade in quality slightly. Eventually that high-quality white office paper is so degraded you can only make pulpy poor-quality egg cartons from it. This is an example of downcycling: processing waste resources into new usable objects that are of lower quality than the previous object. You can’t indefinitely re-use resources and eventually, they’ll still reach the end of their lives in a landfill (just hopefully longer down the road than if you hadn’t recycled!).

2. Recycling sucks because…it’s inefficient

First let’s be clear: Recycling is more efficient than the extraction and use of virgin resources. It takes more energy to chop down a new tree and turn the hardwood into soft, bendable paper made of pulp, than it does to take paper and turn it into recycled paper. But recycling is still incredibly inefficient! It takes a lot of energy to take a plastic bottle, melt it down, and re-form it into a new plastic item (or spin it into polar fleece – a common fate for those water bottles you toss in the bin). The best way to cut down on resources? Don’t buy or use unnecessary items in the first place: Remember, it reduces first, then reuse, and recycle last!

3. Recycling sucks because…you put the wrong stuff in the bin!

When you put things that should go in the garbage in the recycling bin instead, you’re contaminating the recycling load. Because recycling loads go to recycling facilities where they’re sorted both by machine and by hand – but imperfectly – contamination causes all kinds of problems in the whole chain. Depending on what the contamination is, it causes problems from jamming machines (loose shredded paper or shredded bags that wrap around components) or reducing the value of the bales of used materials (anything that sneaks through the sorting process). Because materials processing facilities count on the revenue of selling large bales of crushed plastics, metals, and papers sorted as purely as possible, contamination can threaten the industry. Sometimes, workers will note that a load is particularly contaminated and have to throw the whole thing in the landfill instead!

We hope we’ve convinced you that recycling sucks, and you should use Economy Waste for all your recycling needs! In an industry like this, we can’t take ourselves too seriously – but you can take our promise of good service seriously, because we’re a small company dedicated to offering some of the best junk removal in Calgary!