Which is Better? Recycling or Burning Household Waste?

Check out the video below if you have time.  If not, here’s an overview of what’s discussed:

“Thomas Deichmann of the German magazine Novo says recycling is a waste of time.  The best way to dispose of household waste, he says studies show, is to burn it.  Recycling has become a political issue, rather than a practical problem for engineers, and Deichmann says this is a mistake.”


Our Sustainability Coordinator, Tara Williamson, had this to say in response:

I agree that there are practices which are wasteful in the way our American system works.  I also agree with one of the commentators that recycling plants provide jobs and making things out of unusable things is something I believe in, but I also know that it takes a great amount of water and time to do so.  In the United States we definitely have an easier time and I know that in China they have recycling down to an art, and I’m tempted to ask Europeans why they don’t ask for taxes to cover costs associated with recycling.

Here’s what I know:

a) Manufacturing of disposables and reusables produces waste at some point and uses resources

b) Waste recycling produces pollution and uses resources as well

c) Waste disposal, without recycling, uses landfill space that will take hundreds of years to clear

Basically, everything we do is going to create some sort of space/resource/pollution problem and the only thing that won’t is using materials already created and never throwing them away: reusable shopping bags, etc.  If we are able to find a more efficient ways to recycle, I think that would help.  Everyone burning their own waste may save costs in international and US taxation, resources in transportation and operation of machinery, and make people keenly aware of what they are putting into the atmosphere, but I don’t think it supports a mindset of creating less waste, which is the ultimate goal.

Let us know what you think.


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