Recycling is a massive red herring

  • Philip Morris launched Mission Winnow for a smoke free world, even though it’s nothing but a sloppy website with pointless terms like ‘passion’ and ‘innovation’.
  • The Dutch Royal Airlines is going to make (a tiny bit) of kerosine from bio waste.
  • Starbucks will ban straws (even though had already promised us a recycled cup for 2015).
  • BP spend a lot of words to talk about ‘Beyond Petroleum’, but in two decades showed zero plans.
  • Coca Cola talks about ‘a world without waste’, even though it has been the main source of plastic waste for years, and actively campaigns against deposit bottles.
  • Qantas flies a three ton airplane across the ocean but prides itself because the forks where made out of recycled plastic.
  • In 2014, Volkswagen mentioned “environment” 335 times in a 156-page report about sustainability — even though it full well it was misleading emission tests.

And like this so much more: supermarkets promising to sell less candy to kids, food companies promising to put less salt in their products, energy companies talking about ‘clean coal’.

These are few of countless vague promises from companies that have zero interest in them and use them to postpone real change. And even if we’d actually banish all the straws from the world, it’d save around 0.03% of ocean plastics. Even if all aircraft are equipped with CO2-neutral forks and knifes, they’ll continue to emit around 8% of global CO2 (which only continues to grow).

In the meantime, there is no real regulation, while it is urgently needed. Shell — at least they’re being honest — already said they’d want to pump up everything that is possible. And they’re right: it’s not their task to be sustainable, but only to sell gasoline and to increase the value for their company and shareholders. By postponing sustainable regulations, they do exactly that.

The English call this all a red herring: a distraction, a delay. And so the transition to sustainable sources proceeds at a painstakingly slow pace; exactly what some companies want.

If someone is to be blamed, its governing bodies, because they allow these things to happen. Why can we choose between fair trade and non-fair trade bananas? Why is non-fair trade allowed?

We are not innocent either, we participate in it just as hard: We praise ourselves because we sort plastic from paper, or because we brush our teeth with bamboo toothbrushes) but then take the airplane to Barcelona for a weekend trip.

That is why small things (“all little bits add up!”) are counterproductive. In the whole context, they work against us.

Next time you see a company pride its green credentials in a press-release, think about this: Recycling and sustainability programs from big corporates are huge scams, devised in boardrooms as a way to enable them to continue to sell cheap junk.