Recycling happens naturally when there is market demand for waste items like plastic, paper, metal or glass, but mandated recycling does more harm than good. When do you know that recycling is worthy? You know when some person or business asks to buy your particular waste from you, not when some authority forces you to recycle.
Thus, metal and kraft cardboard currently do find markets but the other waste items of plastic, paper and glass do not now that the Chinese have stopped buying all our waste.
We are not running out of landfill space. We are not saving resources or protecting the environment by recycling. People would recycle without being forced to when it is economically beneficial to do so.
Presented by Floy Lilley at the "Economics for High School Students" seminar. Recorded at the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama; 20 November 2009. Sponsored by Jeremy S. Davis.