Recycling in North Vancouver

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Is recycling in North Vancouver life imitating art?

by Walter Block via International Man

I don’t know how this is done in Vancouver and its other suburbs, but in North Vancouver, the law mandates compulsory recycling. If you don’t, in addition to a fine, the garbage men (Sanitation Engineers, nowadays) will decline to pick up your refuse.

You are required to do this in, count ‘em, five different major ways! In one bin goes your ordinary garbage: eggshells, coffee grinds, orange peels, chicken bones, banana peels, and other such trash. In the second, debris from your garden: leaves, grass, twigs. A third, the gray box, is devoted to glassware: bottles and jars; however, you may not include drinking glasses, dishes, cookware, ceramics, lightbulbs, therein. A fourth container is a yellow plastic bag devoted to paper, but not wood, hard or soft cover books; keep your dirty rotten plastic bags out of this container too. And, yes, there is a fifth, a blue box: you are permitted to place containers there, but only if you rinse them out; and you, yes, you, had better do a good hygienic job: scrub, scrub scrub. We only want clean garbage. Unwelcome in this category are metal and aerosol cans, foil wrap, plastic waste, wrappings, etc. Where, then, for all this unwanted garbage? A special trip to the recycling depot is scheduled for you. You don’t like all this? Go live somewhere else. This entire system is so complicated.

Moreover, they need five separate pages to explain it all. Also, it keeps changing! You need a Ph.D. in STEM to keep up with it all.

Why this is imposed upon the innocent denizens of North Vancouver is easy to see: we have been overrun by politically correct socialist environmentalists or watermelons (red on the inside, green on the outside). They are more than willing to impose their sky is falling nostrums on the rest of us.

To add insult to injury, garbage pickup is scheduled at 7:30 am. Nor are you allowed to leave your trash on the curb the night before – for good reason this time: the bears will have at it. So the only legal time to set out your rubbish is between 5:30-7:30 am. Not very conducive for late-night owls.

What would private enterprise be like, in contrast, in this industry? One thing is clear, even clearer than your strenuously rinsed-out junk: the customer would come first! Compulsory sorting? Well, maybe. But, then, if so, they would likely pay you to do this; you wouldn’t have to pay them. After all, no jeweler throws out gold fillings or dust that may accumulate near the workbench. This mineral is so valuable it pays well to ensure none of it is ever wasted. And, if newsprint, plastic, or anything else becomes more valuable than the costs of saving it, the free enterprise system will see to it that these goods, too, are preserved.

But there would be competing garbage collectors who might offer you a choice: they pay you if you recycle for them; if not, you pay them for waste removal. And, certainly, they would not impose such early disposal pickup times, at least not for the wealthy people who live in North Vancouver. Poorer folk? Maybe, yes, but then they would likely have to pay less for being imposed upon. But, hey, that’s the way of the economic world. Why try to get rich, and improve the economy, if there are no such benefits?

How is all of this financed? In the public sphere, via taxes, of course. In the private sector, payments in either direction, depending upon the value of the refuse. Presumably, the homeowner would pay the private dump company in most cases. Experts are divided as to which is cheaper, but the presumption is that the competitive struggle leaves private firms “leaner and meaner” than their bureaucratic counterparts, who face no such similar competition.

Reprinted with permission from International Man.