Benefits of recycling are best measured in energy cost...


June 01, 1998

Benefits of recycling are best measured in energy cost savings

A front-page article in The Sun quotes "industry spokesmen" as saying "What keeps recycling going is a false impression that recycling is good for environment" ("Recycling hasn't lived up to its hype," May 25).

Ignoring the savings in raw materials such as wood pulp for paper and sand for glass as the article mentions, the major benefit of recycling is something else.

Paraphrasing the political slogan: It's the energy, stupid! Recycled glass is an essential part of the feed for glass furnaces because it reduces the melting point of the mixture of sand and other minerals.

Recycling aluminum cans uses only a fraction of the energy it takes to produce aluminum from bauxite. The same can be said to an extent for steel.

The article did not discuss recycling plastics. Environmentalists realize the supply of fossil fuels used to produce plastic is finite and will become more costly.

The article reports that a Virginia landfill charges just $33 a ton to bury garbage from Howard and Anne Arundel counties -- about half the rate of a few years ago -- but this corresponds with the increase in recycling.

Recycling has diverted a significant portion of what was once solid waste from landfills. It has reduced their revenues. Paper is particularly valuable to a landfill because it is heavy per unit of volume and brings in good revenue. The cost is down because it is a seller's market.

Are we supposed to believe that if recyclables were once again dumped in landfills that the price would remain low? The decrease in cost of using the landfill is, in part, a benefit the municipalities receive from recycling in addition to the commodity price of what they recycle.

The solid waste management firms and landfills get their revenue from the tonnage of materials they haul and dump. It is to their benefit to see recycling fail.

H. S. Wilcox


The writer is an adjunct professor at Catonsville Community College, teaching earth science and critical thinking.

Government's taking land similar to a carjacking

Why do the county officials persist in trying to get access to a private citizen's property by condemning the property?

It's similar to a robber pulling a gun on a car driver at a stoplight, forcing the driver out and stealing the car.

There have been several of these situations in the past month or so.

The officials have no regard for an individual's property rights.

Joseph A. Dyson


Strengthening gun control is a cause worth the fight

I wonder how many children and adults need to be killed and disabled before the gun lobby and their views can be stopped? Why are they so strong? Why are guns accessible to children and anyone who wants them, for that matter? Why are people so passive, as if there is nothing anyone can do about it?

The gun lobby knows exactly what it needs to do to keep things the way they are. A boat without a rudder is always moved by the strongest winds. In many ways, our society operates exactly the same way, and right now, the gun lobby is very strong.

To put it bluntly, it's easier to lay flowers, balloons and teddy bears along a school fence than to organize and fight to win for gun control.

Esther Yaker



I expect the media to saturate the evening news with its anti-gun propaganda after the latest school shootings in Oregon. As a society, we are all responsible for these violent acts, by our indifference toward family values and the decline of our own national moral standard.

Until we come to grips with TV violence, Hollywood's glorification of violence and the fact that our children are fed a constant diet of violence, the violence will continue unabated. Gun control won't work. Taking responsibility for the "trash" being pushed by Hollywood and TV and changing the way we think and act as a moral nation will.

The person responsible for this horrible act should not be seen as a victim, but punished in a timely fashion to the fullest extent of Oregon's law.

Paul J. Marshner, Jr.


Mixing authority, freedom was Giuliani doublespeak

Was the mayor of New York City studying George Orwell the night before he delivered his "Freedom is about authority" speech ("New York City's mayor plays politics of politesse," May 19)? I haven't read such a classic piece of political doublespeak since I finished "1984."

Freedom is not about authority. Government is about authority. Law enforcement is about authority. Bureaucracy is about authority. Freedom is the discretion to choose what you do and how you do it. Freedom is not about ceding those decisions to others.

The only thing freedom has to do with authority is the freedom of those in authority to wield their power however they see fit, and it appears that Rudolph Giuliani is prepared to wield it for all it's worth.

Richard W. Bell


Campaign signs are litter with a maintenance charge

I disagree with the letter ("Laws against political signs likely are unconstitutional," May 24).

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