But the real question here . . . is: does this recycling structure work? The answer is that, from a government point of view, while it can probably be thought of as working, from an environmental point of view, the answer is definitely "no."
The structure works the way all centrally planned structures work: it increases and centralizes power while the attempted (expected) results do not materialize. In this case, the structure works: people do sort their trash in different bins—they have no choice. Also, government garbage collection companies do not have to do as much work while getting paid more than ever before. People are annoyed, but do not really react. Swedes generally complain a lot (about everything), but they do not resist; they are used to being pushed around by powerful government and have tolerated this fate ever since 1523 [when modern Sweden was founded].
This coercive recycling structure is set up in layers, where the consumer ("producer" of waste) gets to do most of the work of sorting, cleaning, and transporting the trash to collection centers. Government-appointed companies then empty the containers and transport the materials to regional centers where the trash is prepared for recycling. And then everything is transported to centralized recycling plants where the materials are prepared for reuse or burning. Finally what is left of the materials is sold to companies and individuals at subsidized prices so that they can make "environmentally friendly" choices.
What is interesting about this Soviet-style planned recycling is that it is officially profitable. It is supposed to be resource efficient, since recycling of the materials is less energy-consuming than, for instance, mining or the production of paper from wood. It is also economically
profitable, since the government actually generates revenues from selling recycled materials and products made in the recycling process. The final recycling process costs less than is earned from selling the recycled products.
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