Sunday, October 23, 2016

Recycling a Bad Idea

Labeled recycling bins in Paloquemao Market. They all contain the same random trash.
Beginning next year, Bogotanos will be required to classify their trash for recycling. It's a great plan - and looks doomed to fail, just as Mayor Petro's similar plan failed before.

Why bother? It all goes to
the same place, anyway.
A visitor to Bogotá might be impressed by the receptacles in shops, parks and markets carefully Organic,' 'Inorganic' and 'Ordinario' trash. But look inside, and he'll probably see that all three bins contain the same miscelaneous garbage, and if he waits around he'll see that all the material goes into the same truck and heads to the same landfill.
labeled '

Recently, I talked to a young woman who teaches in a public high school. She spent a lot of time instructing the children how to separate recyclables from ordinary trash and place them in the correct bins. So, she was horrified one evening when she watched the janitor dump all the bins together.

"Don't do that!" she exclaimed.

"Why not?" the janitor replied. "All of it goes to the same place, anyway."

Classify this!
That's one big reason why recycling's doomed here. Another is the way garbage disposal works across much of the capital; You carry your sacks of garbage - classified or not - onto the sidewalk and leave them there for the truck to come around. Promptly, dogs or homeless people appear and rip the sacks open and dump the contents onto the sidewalk and sift thru them to something to eat or sell.

Fortunately, there's a much better way to reduce Bogotá's trash production and decrease its environmental impact, but unfortunately the city show's no willingness to employ it: Make producing garbage cost money. 
If these bags cost money, this guy would get a reusable one.

This is simple enough to do, by taxing things like throw-away plastic bags (which taxes have reduced
bag use by as much as 90% in places such as Ireland), and placing deposits on things like cans and tires. The consumer gets the most of the desposit back by delivering the used product to a recyling center and the rest of the deposit money finances the recycling. Such policies have succeeded in places in North America and Europe.

Instead, in yet another useless law, Bogotá intends to require those single use disposable bags to carry environmental messages. How nice.

The good news: These plastic bags may soon carry environmental messages.
A truck full of plastic bottles, soon headed for the landfill. A deposit law would encourage the soda companies to  adopt resusable bottles.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

No comments: