Via Maggies Farm, much of your recycling ends up in a landfill, so that much of our recycling effort is just an empty ritual, a ceremony of dedication to the Earth mother god without any actual consequences. I have written for years that only aluminum and certain other metals really makes economic sense to recycle, so effort on all those other materials is just a fiscal loss to municipalities to save landfill space that is not really even running short. Given this, it is not surprising that, behind our backs, cash-strapped local governments are just dumping it.
This is a theme of my comments next week at a forum on alternative energy -- no business model (save perhaps farming, which the public seems willing to subsidize forever) is sustainable if it requires constant subsidies - at some point, the public wearies of the fiscal drain, or the growth of the business makes the subsidies too large to sustain.
By the way, don't even get me started on the government-enforced labor involved. 10 minutes a week per person is 2.6 billion man-hours a year of forced labor. I remember old Loony Tunes cartoons where some guy is sorting mail into slots and on the other side of the wall you see all the mail from the various slots being sent back into a single bag. Given that the government forces us to expend this labor, forgetting the individual liberty aspects of it, is this really the best use of 2.6 billion man hours?
Postscript: Every time I write about recycling, I get this: Well, we agree that mostly it does not save energy and we agree it does not save money (even though we told everyone it did) but you are forgetting about landfill space. OK, here is a take on landfill space -- it turns out that it is not running out, as technology and innovation (and the profit motive) have expanded the capacity of existing landfills.