Dear NYT Editors:
When the CEO of Waste Management, one of the largest haulers and landfill operators in the world, serves as the sole industry representative consulted about the future of recycling, readers can rightfully suspect they’re not getting the full story. In John Tierney’s Op-Ed piece, “The Reign of Recycling,” the irony of the question, “Is recycling wasteful?”, is that “waste” is what happens when discarded materials are not appreciated for the value they represent to our economy as the building blocks for new products.
The answer to his question is quite simple: No, recycling is not wasteful, but given his way, Tierney will do what he can to ensure that’s where it’s headed. Instead of cherry-picking “facts” that downplay the significance of recycling 10 of billions of beverage containers or the impact of avoiding thousands of tons of greenhouse gases being emitted through recycling food scraps, he implies it would be better to throw them out because it takes too much time to sort them!
Why not call for products that are more easily recyclable or made from component parts to aid in the recycling process? Why not build more recycling infrastructure within the U.S. to avoid the volatility of global markets?
The Northern California Recycling Association, a 37 year old recycling trade association working to promote waste diversion, recycling and Zero Waste, welcomes the opportunity to provide an alternative viewpoint painting a truer picture of what is happening in the recycling movement than that offered by Mr. Tierney and the landfill industry he seems to be supporting.