Why isn't household refuse a commodity in the USA?

You can do it in the US if you want. Save and sort everything into piles. but a pick up turck of cardboard is not worth all that much.

Quite a few years ago we had a motor deliver newspaper route to make extra. I saved all the undelievered papers and the papers from the machines that did not sale. Every few months I would completely load up my VW buss and a trailer, I think I got 40 or 50 dollars a load. Imanage going how many houses to collect that many papers, and how many days it would take to do that. Now if you also purchased the old papers from the houses, what would you have. And you have gas to also pay out of that.

When I get a lot of metal for some reason I take it to the metal recycler. I am glad it does not cost me anything and some times for a large load I may get $10.00.

Recycling cans, bottles, and plastic containers only pays off because there is a refundable tax on the container.

They do have computers here, you know. After the devastating flood of 2011/12, there was a great deal of water damaged, crud-ridden items to be gotten rid of.

Relevant article

In my area I pay for trash removal service. The amount I pay per month is for a particular size trash can. They recently implemented single stream recycling (a blessing from God over the sort your recyclables and keep track of when to put out what) which they gave a separate can. This does allow me to reduce the size of the trash can. However i have not done so because it just does not seem worth the effort of calling them.

I checked with my town. In January 2012 (that was the latest immediately accessible time period)the town got .02 (two cents) per pound from their recycler, and the average household recycled 73 pounds – working out to $1.46 per household per month. The $1.46 per household ($15,246) went back to the town to offset the cost of (nonrecyclable) waste collection and disposal.

So the city gets about $40/ton for recyclables, but pays $37/ton to haul nonrecyclable trash and dump it into a landfill. Even with economies of scale, the city doesn’t make money off its trash until the residents recycle about 46% of their stuff.

I don’t think it would be worth it to the recycler to contract separately with each household just to get 73 pounds of recyclabes per month. And with gas at $3/gal. I know people aren’t going to load 73 pounds of stuff in the back of their cars and drive 16 miles to the recycling facility ( I checked) just to get a check for $1.46.