Recycling is often touted as the sure fix for waste management issues. But that is not always the case as this Indonesian example shows. In any case, even if perfectly managed with the best technology, recycling cannot keep an economy growing due to basic thermodynamics. Yet it is amazing how often one hears the nonsensical slogan of ‘zero waste’. Entropy will always mean that there are always irreducible losses. The rest of nature only defies entropy only thanks to solar inouts and thousands of years of co-evolution, with complex systems of breakdown, assimilation and (usually very slow) recycling.
A tradition of metalworking has left a historic village contaminated with high doses of lead. Now the threat continues from battery recyclers spewing toxic smoke.