In the Third Age and the Green Movement, there are two main reasons why it has taken so long for our society to catch on. Those reasons are convenience and cost. When discussing cost, there is more to consider than just money. Time and energy are also ways that we pay for things. In this article, the ongoing argument of the overall cost-effectiveness of recycling is outlined. In 1996, columnist John Tierney posted an article saying that,
"Mandatory recycling programs, ...offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups -- politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations and waste handling corporations -- while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America..."
Granted this was in 1996, when the whole idea of 'being green' was just gaining momentum in the States, but I think that he touched on some common beliefs that some of us still hold today. Maybe not worded so harshly, but there is a question of how financially responsible some recycling and composting options are. Is it really worth it? On the other hand, Michael Shapiro, director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste responded to this with the statement,
"A well-run curbside recycling program can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $150 per ton...trash collection and disposal programs, on the other hand, cost anywhere from $70 to more than $200 per ton. This demonstrates that, while there's still room for improvements, recycling can be cost-effective."
Here is another article dealing with the same issue with solar panels.