The Barrier To Recycling
It's the bloody elephant. Yeah. THAT one, the bloody big heffalump over there. M.O.N E.Y. Our government(s) are big on talking about recycling and forming committees to evaluate the feasibility of forming another committee to make a draft submission for yet another bloody committee to consider for inclusion in yet another whiitepaper or report to the Government to maybe think about acting on. Next election cycle.
To say these politicians and corporations are fiddling while the world burns is an understatement, unless you add "the books," "our minds," and "public funds" after the word "fiddling." The problem for them is that there's no real gain for them in making good recycling happen, and everything to gain by futzing and fiddling and dragging this particular little cash cow out for longer and longer. (and by that I mean the process of appearing to be doing something rather than the actual operation of any actual recycling plant."
And me saying that the reason our politicians aren't passionate about recycling things is because we as a populace aren't, either. We're the ones fiddling while watching them fiddling while our planet burns.
And if you think THAT's a burn, you ain't heard nothin' yet... We're wayyy too happy buying our inewxpensive cuts of meat on a styrofoam tray wrapped with some nice plastic wrap on a machine that chews electricity like it's going out of fashion any second now. And that brings up the next issue, energy generation and consumption.
We're more than stoked if we spend $10k-$70k on a solar panel system on our roof to save $15k over the next ten years but if there's no feed-in tariff maybe we won't do it this year because there's that nice new (PETROL!!!) car instead. And we're all for cheaper electricity - I know I am - but if they have to put a wind farm where I can see it then no thanks and . . . . . . . .
So we need to become ABSOLUTELY PASSIONATE about these issues before these issues kill the planet, and us, and definitely make the place unsuited for future generations. That's where RCX comes in.
EDIT: This situation started changing in the early 2000s with organisations like One Army's Precious Plastic, and the efforts of Youtubers to support renewing and cleaning the environment in efforts like #TeamTrees and #TeamSeas, and efforts like Zero Plastics, Precious Plastic Melbourne, and - hopefully - soon Precious Plastic RCX / RCX Kamp.
The Guts And Gubbins Of It
The idea behind RCX is simple: We can't really afford to build and pay for the operation of (oohhhh, for example: A plastic recycling plant . . .) of the scale of the handful of mega-operations that are currently failing badly at recycling, because these are huge ventures employing between 5 and 500 or so people. We couldn't afford the huge building and yard, the sorting benches, the baling gear (and there's another place those big operations are failing - they're just a glorified sorting house, turning tons of waste into bales of exactly the same toxic rubbish) or the payslips.
Big recycling plant doesn't work. For one thing, a big center needs big pockets, as mentioned, and no-one wants to cough up lots of money for a marginally profitable enterprise. It goes against every tenet and principle of corporationship and capitalism. It's poison to an orderly - profitable - capital focused economy. Then too it needs space, and it needs transport to bring gigatons of crap to some recycling center and then take the same rubbish back out and 'store' it somewhere else that also costs money to operate and maintain.
It needs employees who are paid a wage or salary. So how do we make something from the ruins of what could have been a noble enterprise?
The answer is local. Local, locale-linked, small scale, and a LOT of attitude adjustments. And it won't be able to happen overnight but it HAS to happen or - we're screwed.
RCX is based on small groups of people in a local community building and operating small recycling operations. It's far easier to get grants and assistance and donations for a small scale operation, it's easier to (initially) find volunteers to build and then operate it, and the most important thing of all -
it generates public education and interest.
That sounds like no big deal but it's actually the main thing to come out of it - public education and exposure. People who see an RCX operation are more likely to insist that their local government and federal government start supporting cleaner ways of living. All of a sudden it'll be in those politicians' best interests to actually DO something. Support more RCX sites with grants and other forms of support. Recognise that local recycling projects are wayyyy more efficient ways of recycling and re-using the recycled products than is currently possible. (It also neatly takes a BIG problem and carves it into smaller chunks that are less visible.)
Also, it'll focus on several other issues:
- With increasing automation, more jobs will be lost - and corporations are almost suicidally opposed to the idea of just giving people a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for4 nothing, even if they have just screwed that person out of their only source of living income by replacing them with a Boston Dynamics floor sweeper. But there HAS to be some solution for those people. Working (even just a few hours a week) at a recycle plant will help smoothe out many such issues. Basically it'll help prepare our world for UBI and a new way to get things done.
- The prevalence of "single-use" plastics in everything me make and do, that'll also be exposed a lot more. But more importantly, the message is that we can change that, changing it from "single-use" to "multi-use" just by using the output of the RCX plant. It'll actually provide a benefit to the community in the form of plastics that can be re-purposed.
- By purposefully designing RCX centers to use solar panels as much as possible, it will also strengthen the message that renewable energy is cheap - cheap enough to make recycling plastics economically feasible.
- Then too, plastics are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you have recycled plastic availble, and a few people working around the recycling concepts generally, someone will come up with improvements. Someone will use some of that plastic to cheaply, cleanly, and safely recycle other things. (I'll put some more starting points in the discussion group, which I really urge you to join and contribute to. Yes there will be links to that. B ear with me, at the moment I'm doing this all by myself.) There will be larger community CRXs that will disassemble only one specific year of one specific model of car using small inexpensive machines that are themselves made from the output of other CRXs.
And THAT is the beauty of this scheme - it can deliver us from garbage, one small scrap at a time.
There Is An Exception
What I said above, about it not being profitable for big corporations to start cleaning their own mess. There are ways to enforce such actions. Frighteningly, they're actions that may only be possible with a civil war between governments and corporations - and I wish that weren't such a likely scenario...
Because to MAKE it worthwhile for corporations to recycle their materials rather than make them everyone's problem. You simply STOP petroleum based plastics. Nil, zip, zilch, nada, none. Make them face corporation-sized taxes for every kilo of virgin plastic they create. Right there, you have to ideal incentive to recycle plastics.But make it sweeter:
For every ton of plastic they reclaim, give an incentive. A subsidy towards the energy used to recycle and reclaim that plastic. Corporations will gobble that shit up. And we have a secret... As more and more solar/wind/renewable energy comes online, energy will become cheaper. Because again, the government will take a big chunk of tax for every dollar above a set threshold per megawatt. (As an example.) And as more cheap power comes online again, the threshold price for that energy will be reduced again and again.
Governments will like that because they can take money off the corporations without needing to do their silly little kowtow dance for the lobby dollars. And how will they do it? Let's suppose EvilCorp decide to just ignore the directive to create no mopre virgin plastic, and refuse to pay the taxes. In this case we would expect our government to get tough and send in the military to enforce compliance or even take over until the corporation upper structure accedes to the requests.
That is tough indeed but it's what's needed if we're to save ourselves, our planet, and our children's future. But right now I'd back it.
Because there's no room for pork-barrelling politicians or greedy execs any more. Capitalism and current forms of government have had their day, but before they exits stage left they need to make amends for the damage caused. We can't afford for them to get away with it because the alternative is far worse and more horrible than any of the IPCC papers can convey.
If you read about everything that is 100% going to happen already even if we stop right now, that's already distressing in the extreme. For EVERY DAY we let things slide, the effects are going to increase exponentially.