Is recycling pointless?
Are you wondering if recycling is garbage? Recycling is extremely important and contributes greatly to protecting the environment. But recently, things have been changing quite abruptly with waste disposal. This article will give a quick overview of this critical recycling industry situation. But first, let’s take a look at some issues that may not always be so obvious about the importance of recycling and how to make recycling not rubbish.
Why Is Recycling So Critical?
Proper recycling can help the environment in ways that many people often overlook. For example, it can keep a range of harmful chemicals from reaching the water supply. Most waste treatment facilities are simply not equipped to remove the majority of chemicals, and this means that harmful chemicals are not simply “washed away” but instead make their way into the water supply.
Once in the water supply, chemicals then make their way into food when farms water their crops. In a very real sense, recycling can help keep chemicals out of our bodies.
The Recycling Game Has Changed
Unfortunately, recycling isn’t exactly what it once was or what many of us believe recycling to be. The “recycling game” has changed in recent years due to a variety of developments. At the top of the list is the situation with China.
What is Going on With China?
China is no longer accepting low grade plastics and unsorted mixed paper. The country recently announced that the recycling they were receiving from the United States was not sorted to necessary specifications.
Disruptions to the System
While at first this might not sound like a big deal; the truth is that this development has led to far more trash going into landfills. Much of what we previously sent to China is simply not recyclable in the US.
The end result is that there will be real environmental consequences. China’s ban on low grade types of plastics and unsorted paper served to expose an inherent flaw in the recycling system.
The Recycling System Is Overwhelmed
The recycling system is not currently optimized for the challenges it faces. A key fact is that when an item enters the recycling system and it is in any way contaminated, that item is simply removed from the system.
All Trash Has to Go Somewhere
Trash that accidentally makes its way into the recycling system contributes to pollution in another way. Non-recyclable trash that goes into the recycling system still has to be processed and removed, and that means energy is expended.
Whether it is slowing down the recycling system so that it becomes less energy efficient or transporting trash out of the recycling system, there has been a major increase in the carbon footprint of recycling.
Trash in the Recycling System Causes Chaos
The problem of trash making its way into the recycling system runs deeper still. If trash breaks during the recycling process, it can contaminate other recyclable materials. The end result is that one item of trash mixed into recycling can effectively make a collection of recyclables unusable.
The Economic Impact
Trash and rubbish making their way into the recycling system has serious economic impacts as well. Workers must spend extra time dealing with recycling problems caused by trash.
Hauling away and paying to dispose of trash mixed into the recycling system likewise comes at an economic cost. Equipment can be damaged and broken by trash getting mixed into the recycling system as well. Ultimately, these factors can combine to make recycling more difficult, less cost effective, and far less profitable for cities and towns.
Most Plastic Is Never Recycled and the World Is Paying the Price
We’ve covered one unpleasant truth about recycling: the recycling system isn’t as efficient as it could be. But sadly, there is another unpleasant truth about recycling.
According to a study published in Science Advances in which global plastic use was examined, it was discovered that mankind’s recycling of plastic has been woefully inept.
The Sober Facts about Plastics
The study found that only a mere 9% of all plastic ever produced has been recycled. Obviously, that means that the overwhelming majority of plastic, a staggering 91% has not been disposed of properly. This 91% number likely does not match up with most people’s perception of plastic use.
Another eye-opening statistic from the study is that 79% of all trash in landfills is of plastic origin. Every year a truly shocking 8 million metric tons of plastic is dumped into the ocean.
Mankind is using a mind-boggling amount of plastic. Since plastic’s widespread use began in the 1950s, 8 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced. Note, that number is 8 billion metric tons and not simply 8 billion pounds. Americans throw away 35 billion plastic bottles and 5 trillion plastic bags every year.
Protecting Our Water Supply
The amount of plastic consumed in just one human lifetime is beyond belief and is now presenting a threat to marine life, and in turn, the food chain itself. Plastic contamination is showing up in high levels in a range of aquatic life.
The fact is that most of us don’t realize where our recycling, especially our plastic recycling is going. Plastic recycling is not being recycled as we hoped or believed. Instead, most plastic is going into landfills.
Once in landfills, plastic often makes its way into the water supply and then in turn into the food supply. Even if you are purifying your water, plastic contamination is making its way into your food via farming.
Some Communities Are Abandoning Recycling
Further adding to the dilemma is the fact that recycling isn’t as meaningful and useful as it once was. In short, we are facing a recycling crisis, and many people don’t yet realize that many communities have actually abandoned their recycling programs. Now, more than ever before, it is vital for individuals to find ways to reduce their plastic consumption in their homes.
You Can Make a Difference
There are a range of ways for the average person to reduce their plastic consumption. Consumers can opt to buy products that have been created using recycled materials, such as sweaters and sneakers, or home building products that are built using recycled plastics. These are all good examples of waste management ways to reduce your plastic consumption.
LoadUp Ensures That All Picked-Up Materials are Disposed of in the Best Way Possible
One of the single best ways to deal with recycling is to have LoadUp pick up your recycling raw materials. Part of what makes using LoadUp an environmentally savvy choice is that every item we process is disposed of in the best way possible.
When you are disposing of recyclable materials, working with LoadUp represents an excellent way to reduce your carbon footprint and help keep plastics and other potentially harmful compounds out of the environment and perhaps even out of your own body.
In the end, recycling isn’t rubbish, but the recycling system is flawed and under considerable stress. Moving forward, humanity collectively needs to find a smarter, safer, and healthier way to deal with the wide range of diverse and potentially toxic trash we produce.
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