The recycling myth.
What you think is happening:
Recycling is a way to reduce the amount of garbage going into landfills and protect the environment. Recycling plastic bottles has significantly reduced their impact on our planet. When my recycling is picked up it gets sorted, melted down and recreated into new versions of plastic products.
Recycling is merely moving around trash from one place to another. Recycled plastic never actually gets recycled, it only gets downgraded until eventually there's no value left in it at all making it NOT infinitely recyclable and ends up sitting in landfills forever anyway, but we can still pretend that we're helping the environment by recycling.
You sort out your trash, separate the garbage from the recyclables, and the plastic bottles and cans from the cardboard and leave it out on side of the street to be collected never to think about it again because you did your part, it’s being taken care of, right? That plastic water bottle is just going to become a new one, right?
The idea that your recycled plastics simply get refurbished into new plastic items to be used again is largely a false idea. Even though you recycled it, about 79% of that plastic is still going to end up either in a landfill, scattered throughout the ocean, or burned. How does this end up being the case? Wish cycling taints entire batches of recycling that ends up in landfills, not all plastic is even one time recyclable, and the United States sells its recycling waste to various countries without guarantee it ends up being reused. At the end of the day, it’s really just moving waste around from place to place so we don’t have to see it right in front of us. This method isn’t working for us or for the environment. We can’t recycle our way out of the plastic crisis.
What we need is for companies to stop producing so much plastic and people to stop buying so much plastic. So why haven’t companies just stopped making plastic, problem solved? Convenience and cost. Plastic is easy to make and costs the least to do so. In addition, plastic production companies want you to believe there’s a sustainable solution so your moral compass is okay with continuing to buy plastic and they continue to run as a business. There are alternatives out there, such as infinitely recyclable aluminum, but it comes with an expense. This change can only be done with true demand from the consumer and a willingness to seek out the alternatives, it’s not easy there’s plastic everywhere. Recycling can’t clean up our mess completely but we need to start somewhere and that somewhere needs to be using less plastic so recycling becomes a non-issue.