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Cost is as important as benefit in recycling

The other day on the radio, some government person or other was berating the poor old householder. He was asked by the interviewer why it was that a surprisingly high percentage of plastic sent for recycling ends up in landfill. He pointed out that the lazy old taxpayer often doesn't wash out their sauce bottles properly, so they can't be recycled.

This made me think - I have never seen a proper environmental cost/benefit on recycling. I do recycle - I'm all in favour - but, for example, in the case of the sauce bottle, I generally send it straight to landfill. This is because there is a considerable energy use in washing out a sauce bottle - it usually takes a fair amount of hot water and quite possibly some washing up liquid. It also takes up some of my time, which also has a cost (I assume the reason the recycling companies don't themselves wash out sauce bottles is that the cost outweighs the benefit.)

I don't know for certain how the balance lies as I've …

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