Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Virtue of Landfilling

A fun read on recycling vs. landfilling forwarded to me by our very own Leonidas this morning. Some might think a recycling fanatic (well, almost fanatical) like me might take issue with such a commentary, but I don't. Actually, the writer seems to agree with me that voluntary recycling can be a good thing.

One thing I wonder- and the commentary brings it up in regards mandatory curbside pick up that's often subsidized- is how cost effective mandatory recycling is here in Humboldt County? It's been said that it costs much less to recycle things locally than it does to send them to the landfill. I've always wondered if that's really true, especially up here where recyclables have to be shipped some distance for processing?

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At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

I like Floy's take on the voluntary recycling vs. involuntary recycling in terms of cost.

The CFL thing is a bit sensationalized. Remind me of global warming and carbon dioxide. There are those who will say your propane barbecue puts out carbon dioxide and oooh, that's terrible. Stop breathing then to balance it out.

Same folks are worried sick about mercury in CFLs. Look, even if people dumped every \bulb made every year like this article says, that's a mere drop in the mercury waste bucket. People get all freaked out if they break one of these stupid bulbs. Seriously, I've been swapping grow lamp bulbs since the 80s when they had way more than 5 milligrams of mercury per bulb. I've busted dozens of these. Did I get mercury poisoning? No... heck, I didn't even clean them up very well. Consider that an average mercury thermometer has ~500 milligrams and a lab thermometer 3000 milligrams of mercury... ever broken one of those? That's like smashing 100-600 CFL bulbs at once. The amount of mercury in CFL bulbs is so tiny, it's not even worth worrying about even on the scale of tens of millions of bulbs.

As far as mercury pollution goes, the real culprit is mining. Annually, hundreds tons of mercury pollution result from gold mining alone. With the world economy the way it is, we'll see a lot more of that mercury pollution as gold increases in value. So, don't force people to recycle CFLs, just stop buying gold.

Incidentally, some LED technology uses small amounts of precious metals, including gold. There goes your indirect pollution from manufacturing even if we switch completely off of mercury.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

I read somewhere- don't know how true it is- that incandescent light bulbs have mercury in them, too.

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

You read incorrectly. Incandescent bulbs absolutely do not contain mercury. Incandescent bulbs are strictly glass, tungsten filament, and a nitrogen/argon gas mixture. Tungsten's safety is questionable. The most obvious case is the media focus on the use of tungsten bullets for military shooting practice as an alternative to lead. The problem is that some preparations of tungsten can react in the environment and become toxic. Of course, tungsten bullet manufacturers claim that their bullets don't react.

Maybe you read something referring to how coal-fired power plants cause plenty of mercury pollution and therefore an incandescent bulbs produces more mercury pollution indirectly than is physically contained in a CFL bulb.

The idea being that few places escape importing coal power, so any electricity used can be translated into some amount of mercury pollution.

I have to agree with this analysis as strictly CFL bulb mercury pollution is peanuts compared to the pollution generated by coal.

At 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard poor ole' Mr. Ranger is leaving but , like a bad apple watch him show up again .

Poor old Mr. Ranger !d

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Mr. Nice wrote, Incandescent bulbs absolutely do not contain mercury..

Well, that pisses me off even more. I believe I posted something on this here back when they were in the process of banning incandescents. I posted a news item that said manufacturers were expecting to come up with newly designed incandescent bulbs that were as efficient, or better, than CFLs by the time the ban took effect.

Nope. Can't wait for better incandescents, can we? We've got global warming to be hysterical about.

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, you're the hysterical one. In so many ways.


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