The OECD Legacy: Recycle Black, Recycle Proud

Here's the fundamental truth.  The biggest predictor of waste is wealth.

The wealthier a nation is, the more wasteful it is.

Consumption is not just about waste, it's about extraction/use/demand.  Most of the energy that a computer or television will ever consume was consumed before you bought it, from the mining and refining and assembly and distribution.  Therefore, the longer you use it, the more times you repair it, the less the product consumed.

I'm just amazed, having lived in Africa, how the continent is depicted as a place which has no recycling, or has "primitive" recycling practices.

They reuse beer bottles (to package and sell honey).  They reuse newspapers (for wrapping fish).  They make TVs and computers last 3-4 times longer than "rich" nations do.

It's just disgusting how the one thing that poor people can do better than rich people, because they do it "by hand" (not despite it), has been a victim of mud slinging and fear-mongering.

Rich nations are NOT the model for recycling.  We crush up all our glass bottles with machines, call it "aggregate" and pretend it has been recycled, because we won't put the labor in to sort the glass color by hand, much less divert the good bottles to reuse.

How about we export EVERYTHING, all our waste?  Sacrilege?  Profanity? Obscene?

That's what happened in Egypt - sending garbage from wealthy neighborhoods to the poor in Coptic neighborhoods - when the waste was recycled by the Zabaleen.  When the European waste management titans came in and took over "modernization" of the Cairo solid waste, was it better?  NO IT WAS WORSE.  But the multinational corporations running it are white people.

When California SB20 stopped California from being the number 1 source of refurbished CRT monitors on the planet, was "zero waste" achieved?  Was e-waste managed better?  NO IT WAS WORSE.

Pay and train and clean up the residual toxic problems.  If you don't allow Africans or Asians to repair or reuse, and shred the items instead, the mining that occurs to replace the woulda-reused one will poison more Africans and more Asians.  You did not help the Zabaleen when you take the "waste" away from them, you killed the kids in Kabwe who will now mine more material to replace what the Zabaleen would have recycled.

Overthrow the sanctimonious Waste Watchdog pious.   Recycle black, recycle proud.

Dumping on the poor?  all right then, I'll go to hell.

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