But it’s not valuable, and it never has been

Sunday, March 28th, 2021

You can almost hear the quiver in their NPR voice as they ask, Is plastic recycling a lie?

Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups.

None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried.

“To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.”

Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state.

But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it.

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.”

But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite.


  1. Freddo says:

    The article left me with two questions:

    (1) Is the Liberal Bubble really that stultifying that the non-feasibility of recycling plastic is news to them?

    (2) Or is this why Big Government pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the NPR so inane government policies can be blamed on Big Oil and Industry?

    The answer to both is probably yes.

  2. Bob Sykes says:

    Read Willian Rathke’s and Cullen Murphy’s Rubbish!: The Archaeology of Garbage, Harper-Collins, 1992.

    Rathke is a PhD archaeologist who applied his skills to several American landfills, producing detailed information of what’s in landfills along with dates of deposit.

    The book reads like a treasure hunt, which it is. It is the best single source on some of the details of solid waste management available.

  3. Gavin Longmuir says:

    All that plastic could be burned in carefully-designed power stations to generate needed electricity, reducing the need to burn coal or gas — or to send under-nourished African children into unhealthy cobalt mines to produce materials for the Green Scam. But it is not, because the Usual Suspects would whine.

    Future historians & archaeologists are going to dig through the wreckage of our collapsed civilization and wonder … Was it something in the water which made them become so stupid? Rather like the theory that the adoption of lead linings in wine jugs led to the collapse of the Roman Empire.

  4. Kirk says:

    It was always a propaganda effort. If you go back and read the actual crap that all the “ecologists” and “ecological evangelists” were writing back around the early 1970s when all this crap got started, you’ll find them discussing the way the US and other countries used “scrap drives” back during the World Wars in order to motivate the public. The recycling effort was modeled on that, and they knew then that it was exactly the same as the various drives during the wars–Useless make-work meant to engage the public.

    Go back further, and you’ll find the same asshole behind those scrap drives that was behind Woodrow Wilson’s propaganda efforts.

    If I remember rightly, most of that “scrap” wound up being dumped out of sight, because there was no effective way to make use of it. But, thousands turned in their aluminum, fats, and other materials. Not to mention all the historical monuments and earlier war trophies that were uselessly sacrificed in the name of “scrap drives”. There’s a historian that went back and dug through the records, and other than the aluminum, most of that stuff was a waste of time–He could not find any evidence at all that it had been used, let alone been “crucial to the war effort”. It was merely a ploy to gain the public’s participation so that they’d thing that they were “doing something valuable” for the war.

    Precisely the same as recycling. It’s brainwashing, pure and simple.

  5. LGC says:

    In 1998 I was working in a great big telecom as a contractor. As a contractor, of course, unlike all the employees, I was working late. Remember, in the late 90s the telecoms were the big tech of the day; all the happy people were there. The janitorial service was working its way around the cube farm.

    At each cube, they carefully picked up the trash can and put it in their larger trash can. Then they picked up the carefully marked can for paper to be recycled and put that in the same trash can.

    My “Wow, this is total BS” lightbulb goes on. Everyone feels good about their “efforts” but it’s all going to the same place.

  6. Kirk says:

    It’s always been a part of a deliberate brainwashing program–Get the kiddies to “do their part”, just like back during WWI/II, and their parents will follow along like robots.

    You know it’s a religion-like issue when you can’t talk rationally to people. Everyone “knows” recycling=good, but when you point out the problems to them, their brains shut down because they’ve been conditioned to think that their recycling efforts mean they’re “good people, looking after their environment”.

    Meanwhile, actually effective environmental policies get ignored because they’ve sublimated their environmental “virtue” so that they think they don’t need to do anything else… “Why, of course it’s OK that I’m dumping crap into my drain that will make frogs and fish have deformities… I RECYCLE!!!!”.

    All of this crap was carefully calculated and worked out by the “activists”, who of course get huge salaries and are able to amass massive war chests they keep stocked from all the virtue-signaling coprophile corporations and “charitable foundations”. You can see the same syndrome going on with things like the Southern Poverty Law Center and their racialist BS. It’s all brainwashing–”Oh, I have a Black Lives Matter sign on my front lawn… It’s OK that I’m not helping that black person, ‘cos they makes me feel icky… I mean, I love black people, but just not, y’know… Near me…”.

    Worst racist bastards I’ve ever known were all Simon-pure “virtuous liberal” types. Bastards would never in a million years stop to help an elderly black woman with a flat tire, but they’ll tell you you’re racist all day long because you lock your car door when driving through gang territory.

  7. Paul from Canada says:

    I’ll reiterate what I said on another thread.

    If (insert green thing, like recycling here) really worked, then it wouldn’t need to be mandated or subsidized. Large, evil, capitalist corporations would be falling all over themselves to participate. Anticipating either profits from getting involved in the industry, and/or cost savings from participating at the consumer level.

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