With global warming at the forefront of many of so many of our minds, many argue that government sponsored recycling projects are a critical to help ameliorate the current situation. Such proponents argue that government programs are necessary so that people have convenient access to recycling and, therefore, are more inclined to participate. Furthermore, many environmental activists point to the responsibility of the government to do what is in the best interest of the public and believe that creating a cleaner environment is an important part of that.
While most accept global warming as a real phenomenon and can recognize the pollution that the human race has created, many believe that government sponsored recycling programs are not in the best interest of the people due to their high costs. Providing the public with recycling services often means high start-up costs and maintenance of the programs. Many elected officials are skeptical of whether the environmental benefits of these recycling services outweigh the cost. With the economy in hard condition and people and government struggling as is, this question is far from uncommon.
Take, for example, the city of San Antonio, Texas. The city had plans to add a second bulky collection day each month and also to develop two transfer stations for the disposal of large waste, like television recycling. While many elected officials initially deemed the project as being positive, the $7 million price tag was ultimately more than they could swallow.
At a glance, a $7 million cost for essentially two projects worth of recycling services appears high, especially given the current economic situation. But what do $7 million of recycling services look like as a cost per person? San Antonio government agents broke down the costs of each program, estimating that the extra bulky pick up day would cost taxpayers 35 cents per month, and the additional recycling service centers an additional 34 cents per month. A total of less than $1 additional cost for taxpayers each month, the proposal was halted until 2012 when it will be discussed again.
So were San Antonio government officials correct in their determination that such recycling services were not worth their cost? Does their decision represent the best interest of the public? Are these decisions short sighted? Ultimately, our society will need come together to make these determinations about recycling on a larger scale. After all, the cost of failing to do so is extraordinarily high.