During their next session, state lawmakers in Minnesota will consider a possible 10-cent refund on all beverage containers. Consumers would pay the 10 cents on each bottle at the time of purchase, and get the money back when they return the bottles to redemption centers.
The goal? To boost recycling.
We have problems with this proposal.
Products or materials only have value if they are in demand by someone. If materials (plastics, in this case) are easily obtained or products can be made cheaply, then there is no incentive to recycle them. All those recycled materials simply stack up somewhere. If there is an incentive, i.e. a reason for someone to collect cast-aside products and materials, then there is no reason for the state to intervene. The market will buy up all the materials it wants.
Recycling for recycling's sake never makes sense. People will say it keeps things out of landfills. Yes. But at what cost, and for what purpose?
If you go outside tomorrow and bury a plastic bottle in your yard, it just sits there. It doesn't contaminate the soil or the groundwater.
But there are serious costs for all the recycling efforts run by cities, counties, states, etc. Those costs are lost opportunities for truly improving society through the efficient use of a truly precious resource: capital. When government imposes costs on people to fund feel-good schemes, it hurts private sector investment and spending that would create jobs, raise productivity and boost standards of living.
Again:?There is nothing wrong with recycling when it makes sense. If materials and products are in demand, there will be a market for them.