Thursday, February 10, 2005

Warning signs

Here's another AP headline that caught my eye: "Seattle Mandates Recycling."

So the City Council passed a mandatory recycling law that took effect Jan. 1, but penalties won't be enforced until next year.

Starting in 2006, people in single-family homes won't get their trash picked up if they dump ``significant amounts'' of recyclables in their trash, defined by the city as more than 10 percent by volume. Owners of apartments, condominiums and businesses will face $50 fines.

I'm immediately skeptical, because this just seems like another government intrusion. However, I believe that "reduce, reuse, recycle" is part of good stewardship of the environment.

I don't know if there are any private garbage collection companies in Seattle, or whether they will be subject to inspections. If so, the new law is quite likely to increase their operating costs significantly, which could certainly end up giving the government owned collectors a near monopoly -- certainly speculation, but something worth considering.

I'd also be interested in who owns the recycling plants, and, if they're government owned, how efficient they are. The tax-payer burden may well outweigh the environmental benefit.

Recycling is a worthy cause, but from what I've see it's rarely economically beneficial (thus it must be government sponsored.) Any government enterprise that can't pay for itself is destined to be a money pit and should be subject to much scrutiny before approval.

I could be way off on this one, because I haven't researched any recycling statistics, so if someone is a recycling guru, please let me know!

As long as initiatives like this stay at the city level, I'm really not too worried about them. When they get past the local level, we'll definitely have cause for concern.