For the past 40 years, local government officials have sold us a bill of goods that says that recycling of paper, glass, metals and plastic is not only environmentally sound policy but also financially beneficial to our local community. That changed rather dramatically in recent years when China announced new policies that allowed them to refuse to accept much of our nation’s garbage.
Without the ability to sell our recycled garbage to China, there is no longer a market for much of what Americans continue to recycle. As such, much of what you and I pre-sort and put in appropriate recycling bins has been stored in warehouses or tossed into landfills.
COVID-19 will force many local units of government to deal with record budget deficits in the coming years. Responsible elected officials are today assessing what essential government services are and what, at least for the near future, we can live without. (You can insert here your own snarky comment on what the Minneapolis City Council will deem “essential” and what we can live without).
An interesting paper was released this week by the Manhattan Institute that looks at the financial impact of recycling and why it may have run its course in many American cities who will be faced with critical decisions on what to fund: police, fire or recycling. You can read the paper HERE.