The government (specifically the US, and by governemnt I mean local, state, and federal) is responsible for many public works, social welfare programs, and public safety projects that span locally to nationally. My question is why does the government either not sponsor/subsidize recycling companies or perform recycling itself? Many recycling companies do not recycling certain materials because of the cost or lack of ease of recycling (multi-layer plastics, small items, bulky items, contaminated items, etc.). Items like styrofoam, single-use flatware, blister packs, chip bags, or a plethora of items that can be recycled, but aren't. If you are unfamiliar, check out TerraCycle which offers services for many hard-to-recycle products.

Anyways, private companies recycle for profit, thus will not recycle non-profitable items, including easy-to-recycle items if they receive too many contaminants, so they can't sell their bales. Even really cheap and easy items like glass, which as become such a commodity, some places don't take glass anymore. Wouldn't it make sense for the government to pick up on this?

If the government has the best interests in the public's welfare, despite the cost, it would be no different than other government-ran/sponsored programs such as medicare/medicaid, state parks, educational grants, scholarships, roads, sanitation, and so forth. Government programs are to help people via health, public safety, convenience, leisure, and education. So why not ecology? Even if private companies continued to handle recycling, the government could give tax breaks or incentives for these companies to handle hard-to-recycle materials.

EDIT: I understand this doesn't have a definite answer and there are answers such as "Because politicians don't generally care for reform unless profitable and any system currently in place is only still there because it's current", but are there other reasons? Maybe government can't interfere with these businesses, maybe they've tried and it doesn't work, etc.

  • A lot of assertions that are not logical to me. In my city the city does garbage and recycle. – paparazzo Sep 13 '18 at 16:14
  • They may collect it but do they also process the recycling/trash? As I said though, i know some municipalities handle trash/recycling and some strongly enforce it, levying fines and repercussions but not commonly. – Greg Sep 15 '18 at 18:57
  • It's an interesting topic, but as it says "on the label", "This site [StackExchange] is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum." – Smilin Brian Sep 19 '18 at 17:20
  • Yes, Brian but what I'm asking is is there an explanation for this? Maybe there's some sort of legal precedent or notable disinterest by the government that makes the trash and recycling industries predominantly private. – Greg Sep 19 '18 at 18:18

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