I don't have a dog in the arguing here, just an alley cat - I've biases towards recycling but economics isn't one of my general interests.
I admit to foot squishing cigarette butts out near curbs fifty years ago, but got over that not all that long later. Mostly for me and a lot of people I know, trash goes in the trash, but I know there's a world of people out there trashing a lot. I've read complaints about that re italians in Italy, said there that people are more into family than community for a lot of reasons; I sort of doubt that's true, not that they are more family oriented, but re trash as in my months there it was less trashy than a lot of other places I've been to. (Naples, on the other hand... has other family).
But I might buy that as a generalization that might apply some of the time, that people who just toss stuff don't feel connected to the place they are at, in some way. Re recycling, maybe or maybe not, it helps wake people up . Maybe it's having your own place once you grow up that helps, you then being emotionally invested in not slobbing up the streets. But in any case, trash happens, on the roads or beaches or in provided cans, and necessitates places to put it. In built up smaller countries with long history, finding where to dump it all is a big problem, and not just re the money.
I tend to like reuse of items, long have been, but more so lately. Maybe twenty or twenty five years ago I noticed that I liked old leather book bags or purses with "character", books that had clearly been read by others. Well, used books, that was more that 25 years ago. Patina, they have patina.
Among other things, liking older items gives you a wider view of style than what is in the stores this minute in time. But most seem to much prefer Brand spanking new stuff. So it's good that someone like me can buy from thrift shops items given away by people like them. Apparently at least some dumping facilities try to pull out items that are sellable at their site.
What am I getting at? Recycling within one's home or within a group of friends...
Many people wouldn't want what used to be called cast offs, but many also might.
So I'm positing that a lot of our making piles of trash is our predisposition to have new stuff all the time. Not to blame, new things can be wonderful, but the love for ever new is a kind of merry go round.
So, re the economics of recycling, I somewhat don't care. I think it's important that we don't pile the world up with washing machines tossed into gulches (hyperbole but not all so much) and instead conserve.
Disclosure - my last business partner and I did some designing for a Waste Management facility. It was great fun, good project, and the director of the site was quite a sane guy.