I've been mulling over something that I wanted to get your opinion on.
When I'm sorting through my garbage determining what I can recycle and what has to be thrown out because we don't have the technology or system to deal with those types of materials (many kinds of plastics, aluminum foil, etc.) I fantasize about the garbage going into the landfill to be recovered one day. I believe it's plausible that future generations will have better technology to deal with reusing many of the materials we can't today (or don't because of cost).
Now, call this wishful thinking and perhaps I'm trying to assuage some of the guilt of throwing out those old shampoo bottles or other things we had been given as gifts or just end up buying and using without paying attention to the packaging. But what about the possibility of retrieving these things if and when it gets to the point where new materials aren't likely to be made?
One of the things that strikes me is that when we run out of the cheap barrels of oil that we've relied on for the last fifty-plus years for making plastic, will it become cheaper to try to mine landfills for materials rather than make new ones out of a scarce resource? It may be cheaper to dig through the garbage rather than source new veins of metals and other materials.
If this is a possibility, does it make sense to bury like waste so if this does occur, future generations won't have to scrounge through heaps of food scraps, dirty diapers (although there might be something usable there) and other debris to get at the plastic waste or electronic waste they are mining? In other words, bury similar materials together (all styrofoam here, all e-waste there, etc.).
Of course, I am not suggesting that we not be absolutely careful about what we are using and throwing away, but there does exist a tremendous amount of electronic waste in the form of cell phones, computers, TVs, CFL bulbs, etc. that are chock full of hazardous but potentially valuable metals and other materials. The same thing goes for other types of waste, too.
Does this just further push the problem onto future generations while costing the current ones more for disposal since there would need to be separate containment facilities for each type of material? Or since we can't properly dispose of them anyway, should we charge users more for their disposal and containment?
What do you think?