Glad Calls Bullshit! On Recycling

In 2004, Penn & Teller took on recycling in an episode of Bullshit!, claiming that only aluminum cans were worth the effort (watch the whole episode at the previous link).  In a recent commercial for its ForceFlex bags, Glad seems to buy into that notion:

Imagine enough plastic to cover Mount Rainier.

Enough Trash Bags To Cover Mount Rainier

What if we could keep that much plastic waste out of landfills each year?  By using just one less trash bag each month, we can.

Stuffing the Pizza Box in the Glad ForceFlex Bag

And Glad ForceFlex bags stretch until they’re full, so you can take them out less often.

forceflexIt’s a small change that can make a big difference.

into the can theres the recycle bin

Notice how the Glad ForceFlex bag user has a recycling bin next to the garbage can she just threw her pizza box into.  And in case you had any concerns about whether or not pizza boxes are recyclable:

Matt Naimi, owner of Recycle Here!, Detroit’s recycling drop-off center, said he’s never had a problem recycling used pizza boxes.


“Let’s say if an entire load of cardboard going to a paper mill … contained nothing but pizza boxes that were soaked through with grease — that particularly might be a problem,” Naimi said. “That’s not going to happen.”


Recycle Here! processes four tons of paper each Saturday, Naimi said. Of that amount, “maybe 100 pounds are pizza boxes, maybe 40 pounds have a grease stain — not going to contaminate the load, not even going to show up in the mix,” he said.

Obviously Glad is not unbiased on this issue, since the more pizza boxes (and other recyclable items) consumers throw in the trash, the more trash bags they sell.  Based on the comments about this commercial on their YouTube page, consumers would have preferred that the pizza box was recycled.  Perhaps Glad should have included a link to the episode of Bullshit!.


8 thoughts on “Glad Calls Bullshit! On Recycling

  1. Recycling is an interesting concept. Since the inauguration of Earth Day so long ago, we’ve been indoctrinated that we are saving the Earth by doing little efforts like recycling. The economics and associated issues are more complex.

    In the late 1990’s the State of Hawaii started an extensive recycling effort. Paper, plastics, and metals were sorted and separated, loaded onto barges, and dumped at sea. Turns out that the economics was such that the nascent industry could only make money by taking the incentives the state provided to do the sorting and separating, and that transporting the “raw materials” somewhere to be processed was just not a feasible business plan. I hope that’s changed.

    The economics of recycling boils down to this. If someone is willing to pay you to take your recycling, then there is value in you recycling. If not, then it is trash, and the time you spend on sorting and separating is wasted. You can listen to this EconTalk interview for more details.

    In spite of the economics, I still separate,sort, and deliver materials to the local recycling center. I guess the indoctrination worked. And yes, “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

    Please do not show me the Queen of Diamonds.

  2. Not all towns require sorting/separating/delivery of recyclables. Our recyclables are single-stream and are picked up at the end of our driveway. I am quite sure we are not the only town in the country that provides this service. We feel this is the least we can do to keep trash off the road sides and possibly re-used.

    • Unfortunately in doing the least that you can do you may actually be doing more harm than good. I am not saying that is necessarily the case, but that is definitely the point that Penn & Teller are making. I have been unable to locate a study that demonstrates one way or the other whether recycling paper and/or cardboard produces more or less pollutants, uses more or less energy, etc. than manufacturing paper goods from trees grown specifically for that purpose. It is a difficult issue to say the least, since we have been told for decades that recycling is inherently good without being given any information explaining why.

      • So I guess we need to find out if the “negative” aspects of recycling outweigh the aspects of sending everything to our many landfills or is it actually the other way around. We were always les to believe recycling would keep us from having so many unwanted landfills. Is there no logical, acceptable solution? Does anyone have an answer.

      • So for all the years we have been told that we have been “saving” the landfills by recycling it is possible that there may have some sort of misrepresentation or another under which we were operating? How are we supposed to keep on an even keel in this supposed war on trash yet alone have any chance of ever winning it if what we have been doing for the past 30 plus years has been more detrimental than beneficial!

  3. Our city says to recycle “everything that rips”. Even pizza boxes. They take it all too. No need to hid pizza boxes we put them right there on top of the pile in plain sight. They say they send it all to china in a china blend, they don’t make as much money. But it counts as recycling. A good thing too because we have a stupid pay as you throw on the trash side. While recycling is free. I used to wash all my containers and recycle on the best choice of paper. But once the new system started the city started to take anything. I noticed the “garbage” the negibors called recycling. I guess they really just want high recycle numbers and don’t care about quality. I was sad to see quality recycling end, and the “pay as you throw” come in which was the cause of the lower recycling quality. But hey it was the citys decsion.

  4. So, how many helicopters does it take to remove all that plastic? That’s SO environmentally conscious. Did nobody in the marketing campaign THINK of THAT? We have to save all that plastic because you just burnt up 500 gallons of fuel in 30 seconds.

  5. Just saw the commercial for forceflex where the woman throws a recyclable container in a trash can. I don’t understand how a company could morally stand behind this marketing ad?

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