Is sustainability a dangerous myth fuelling over consumption?

Posted on November 26, 2013 by DrRossH in Plastic Waste News

Is sustainability a dangerous myth fuelling over consumption? | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional.

Recycling and renewables: a false sense of reality?

Let’s take two practical examples. Firstly, there is the idea that we can seek sustainability by recycling. Certainly putting things into reuse rather than landfill is a good idea. But sadly no technology exists that can efficiently turn discarded products into pristine raw materials.

All current recycling is at best downcycling, as high-quality metals and plastics are reclaimed in low-quality guises with a limited range of applications. We therefore need to seriously promote the solution of consuming far fewer things, rather than continuing to propagate the growing belief that mass consumerism can continue unabated providing that everything we throw away is magically recycled.

Just as recycling does not provide a sustainable means of consuming physical resources, there is also no renewable energy source to which we can transition. In fact, there is no such thing as renewable energy at all. All means of power generation consume non-replenishable resources. Wind turbines, for example, require towers, generators and sails to be constructed, while photovoltaic solar cells do not materialise out of thin air. All forms of alternative power generation also have a limited working life, as well as a relatively low net energy yield.