Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Efficiency and green

". . . recycling each ton of waste employs 10 times as many people as the number required to incinerate or landfill it. . ." 
This was the section which stood out from an article in Friday's Daily Telegraph lamenting the Government's lack of enthusiasm for 'green growth'.   The author, Geoffrey Lean, was commending the regime of ten people doing what one previously did because it generates employment.  Of course, an assessment has to be made about the costs (including environmental) of landfill or incineration (though they are not all costs - both can produce energy which can be harnessed).

But the balance sheet also has to include the cost of employing those nine extra workers.  It is a false assumption that they would be unemployed.  The money released by not employing nine people would be invested in other demand which would, doubtless, require workers to meet it.

Probably more efficiently.  As someone recently put it, we seem to delight in third-world ambition.

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