A new study has proven once more that plastic recycling is a lie. According to American Chemistry Council data, only 14% of all plastic is recycled. The data further shows that 16% is incinerated and 70% ends up dumped into landfills.
These findings underscore a 2020 report by NPR that discussed how the plastics industry has lied to the public about the possibility of plastic recycling. For many years, the public has been led to believe that sorting plastic waste in a certain manner could help with the recycling process.
In the 1980s, the plastic industry was in trouble following public concern over plastic pollution. As a result, plastic industry players devised a way of staying in the market. This entailed a $50 million per year advertising campaign, encouraging consumers to recycle. As a result, the public was made to believe that plastics with a recyclable badge could be recycled responsibly. Unfortunately, this plan has proved infeasible.
NPR investigators found that those little triangles at the corner of the plastic mean nearly nothing. They are just a ploy used by the plastic industry to encourage people to use the products.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 14.5 million tons of plastic packaging were produced in 2018. This already startling tonnage doesn’t even include trash bags or single-use plates and cups. Without meaningful recycling possibilities, this plastic continues to either get incinerated or pollute the environment. This recycling issue starkly contrasts with materials like corrugated boxes, of which about 97% are recycled.
For a long time, U.S. companies sent plastic waste to China, but that changed a few years ago. With China shutting its doors to U.S. plastic waste, all this plastic ends up in landfills. Those in the industry say that the major problems with plastic recycling include collection, sorting and the expense of melting it. Further, the quality of plastic degrades each time it undergoes recycling.
Lead image via Pixabay