Timmy elsewhere

In the Scottish Mail.

Not, as far as I know, online.

‘Some recycling is an extraordinarily
good idea – but not when it’s the
latest new state religion,’ says the
economist Tom Worstall, a Fellow of
the Adam Smith Institute and the
author of Chasing Rainbows: Economic
Myths, Environmental Facts.
‘The concept of zero waste is insane.
They are not asking questions, not
analysing costs and in some cases, in
pursuit of their ambition, they are
doing more harm to the environment.
Rather than being a panacea,
recycling may be running us into
problems, because some recycling is a
very bad idea.
‘Take green glass, for example, which
most of our wines comes in. It’s
ground up for hard-core beneath
road surfaces. The Westminster
Government’s own research concedes
that recycling it causes more carbon
emission than dumping it.
‘Another example is food. Waste is
collected and put through a ‘digester’
that produces methane gas. If you
dump it, bacteria does the same job.
Now, I am not certain which system is
better – and that is my point. In our
haste to recycle everything, no one is
asking questions.
‘We might also consider the cost of
our time to satisfy the demands of
councils to separate waste into our
five, six or seven bins. It is estimated
that it takes 45 minutes. If we were
paid only a minimum wage, the sum
would be greater than the annual cost
of waste disposal.
‘We are moving not at the pace of
practicality but religious zeal. All
those bins! Seven or eight journeys to
pick them up! Sending waste by road
over hundreds of miles!’


Mr Worstall adds: ‘I really think it’s time to
step back and distinguish between what is
good and what is not in recycling… for the
truth of the matter is that we are not doing
this at all properly.’

It\’s a bit late for me to correct them about my not being an economist……and it\’s the result of a 30 minute conversation being turned into notes rather than quite direct qoutations….


6 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. But it’s your economist twin brother, Tom, isn’t it? 😉 Typo-ing your own name; that’s impressive.

    Not only does grinding up the glass for use in winter grit use excessive energy, but it also causes a marked increase (one might say a spike…) in the number punctures caused to cyclists. So cyclists, already incentivised to get off their bicycles and into warmer vehicles, have another reason in the form of three punctures a week (as I had at the height of last year’s snow). So you cause more congestion and more pollution. Well done, that Alderman.

  2. I’m a great fan of thought experiments and a simple one illustrates your point.

    If you could recycle paper with 100% efficiency, which would you prefer, a factory or a forest?

  3. While I largely agree with you here I don’t think you do your case any good by simply quoting the 45mins, which I think comes a) from a 10yr old study in the US and doesn’t chime with a lot of people’s experience, and b) without quoting the same study which showed vast majority of residents happy to do it, suggesting they charged that time differently.

    As I’ve said before, surely as a Fellow of the Adam Smith Society you could get them to sponsor a YouGov survey on recycling time, which would give you much more ammo in this fight?

    Tim adds: I think you misunderstand what a “Fellow” of a think tank is. Start at “freelance writer we give a nice title to instead of lots of money” and don’t go any further and you’ll be about right.

  4. I realise it’s grade-inflation-gone-mad, but you must have some influence there. What do they spend their money on? Port?

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