In California, bottle recycling is mandatory, except when it’s illegal

California requires people to recycle their empty bottles.

However, this recent news article from the Merced Sun-Star says that three people have been charged with “recycling fraud” in California, because the bottles they recycled were “smuggled” into California from Arizona. The bottles from both states are physically identical to each other, but the price paid for the bottles is higher in California than in Arizona.

In the private sector, this kind of behavior is completely legal, and it’s called “arbitrage.” This is what wikipedia says about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage

Arbitrage

In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.

This video shows an example of legal arbitrage. In the video, a guy goes to a bunch of Wal-Marts, buys up every copy of Monopoly for Millennials for $19.82 each, and sells them online for three times that price:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknkqT5tHK8

What that guy in the video did is 100% legal.

But for some strange reason, the people who sold bottles from Arizona in California were breaking the law.

Even though the bottles that they sold were real bottles, they were charged with “fraud.”

And even though the bottles from Arizona were physically identical to the bottles from California, they were charged with “smuggling.”

It’s completely ridiculous that this is illegal.

The people who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video don’t care where it came from. As long they get what they paid for, they are happy.

But for some weird reason, politicians seem to think that there is some inherent difference between bottles from California and bottles from Arizona.

In the real world, the only difference is the price. There is no physical difference between the bottles.

If recycling bottles was truly a good idea, then California would be happy to recycle bottles from Arizona, just like the customers who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video were happy to buy what they bought. If the item in question is truly valuable, then the buyer won’t care where it came from.

Therefore, for California to mandate bottle recycling in some cases, while outlawing it in other cases –  even though the bottles involved in both cases are physically identical to each other – is absurd.

Here’s a clip from “The Bottle Deposit” from season 7 of Seinfeld, where Kramer and Newman try to make money by recycling bottles from New York in Michigan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGJZcHgqX1g

December 5, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy new crayons?

A woman named Emily Skopov started a non-profit organization called No Crayon Left Behind.

The charity collects used crayons from restaurants and other organizations and gives them to people who can’t afford them.

When the collected crayons are misshapen, Skopov melts them down on her own stove and molds them into new crayons.

Skopov said she spends approximately 45 hours a week volunteering for No Crayon Left Behind.

In addition, she hired a consultant and has a paid staff as well.

She also rents an office.

Skopov said of her endeavor:

“I purposely haven’t kept track of how much I’ve spent because it would freak me out, but it’s got to be thousands of dollars.”

Meanwhile, Wal-Mart sells a box of 64 brand new crayons for $2.94.

So here’s my question: Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just buy new crayons?

 

 

July 12, 2018. Tags: , , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. 1 comment.

Plastic-munching bacteria can make trash biodegradable

If this is true and it can be used on a large scale, it’s fantastic news.

 

http://www.livescience.com/54016-plastic-eating-bacteria-could-reduce-trash.html

Plastic-Munching Bacteria Can Make Trash Biodegradable

March 10, 2016

A durable plastic called PET is considered a major environmental hazard because it’s highly resistant to breakdown. But researchers have found a potential new match for this hardy plastic: a newly discovered microbe that is astonishingly good at eating it.

An estimated 342 million tons (311 metric tons) of plastic are produced annually worldwide, and currently, only about 14 percent is collected for recycling, according to the World Economic Forum.

Most plastic degrades extraordinarily slowly, but PET — short for poly(ethylene terephthalate) — is especially durable, and about 61 million tons (56 metric tons) of the colorless plastic was produced worldwide in 2013 alone, according to the researchers.

Previously, the only species found to break down PET were rare fungi. Now, scientists in Japan have discovered bacteria that can biodegrade this hardy plastic.

“The bacterium is the first strain having a potential to degrade PET completely into carbon dioxide and water,” said study co-author Kohei Oda, an applied microbiologist at the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan.

The researchers collected 250 samples of PET debris from soil and wastewater from a plastic-bottle-recycling site. They scanned these samples for bacteria that could eat PET.

The scientists identified a new species of bacteria, which they named Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, that could almost completely break down a thin film of PET after six weeks at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Appendages from the cells might have secreted compounds that helped to dissolve the plastic, the researchers said.

Genetic and biochemical analyses identified two key enzymes involved in the breakdown of PET. One enzyme worked with water to break down the plastic into an intermediate substance, which the other enzyme broke down into PET’s basic building blocks, the scientists said.

These findings could have a wide range of real-world applications, because bacteria should be easier to incorporate into devices to break down PET than fungi is. “We hope that we can develop a technology to handle such a lot of wasted PET,” Oda said.

In the future, the researchers would like to “improve the ability of the microorganisms to degrade,” Oda said.

It’s not known how these enzymes evolved, Oda said, and both enzymes bear little resemblance to the enzymes most closely related to them.

The scientists detailed their findings online today (March 10) in the journal Science.

 

March 11, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Environmentalism, Science, Technology. Leave a comment.