This question should be broken down into two seperate points. First, what are the environmental impacts of recycling? Do we use more energy to produce new materials from scratch, or recycle existing materials? What are other factors that impact the environment? How do these points vary across different types of materials? Second, what are the economic impacts of recycling? Which costs our society more money and what are the impacts of distorting government subsidies? Which costs more for the recycling/manufacturing company? How does this vary across materials? Advanced thanks hubbers!
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This answer reflects my personal research on the subject nearly perfectly. Scientific American states recycling plastic is still (barely) more expensive, but when we factor the environmental and opportunity costs of new material, its a no brainer.
Thanks for the answer Dennis, and thank you for the lovely tips on reusing materials. I wish the rest of the world shared your sentiment on the matter.