In an article published on October 25, 2018, by news provider EcoWatch, journalist Mary Mazzoni reported on “the complex and frustrating reality of recycling plastic.” Mazzoni asks the question “Plastic is recyclable, after all, so why can’t we just recycle it?” and elaborates on why “it’s not as simple as it sounds.”
She highlights that “fluctuating demand for recycled material and consumer confusion about what is recyclable make it harder for U.S. collection programs to remain economical.” She further explains that “PR campaigns and public service announcements touted the ease of recycling” which led “people [to] throw everything from plastic shopping bags to garden hoses into their curbside carts.” However, about “10 to 15 percent of the material sent to U.S. recycling centers is not recyclable, and it eventually makes its way to local landfills.” David Biderman, CEO and executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), informed: “Paper, plastic and metal can only be sold into the marketplace if it satisfies certain standards, and one of those standards is that it not contain other material.” In addition, light-weight plastics which are increasingly favored by packaging manufacturers are often not recyclable.
“[P]lastic is downcycled far more often than it’s used for new bottles or other containers,” Mazzoni points out. Robert Reed, spokesperson for the resource recovery company Recology in for San Francisco, U.S., stated: “I would caution you against expecting or wishing that there be a recycling market for everything.” Therefore, “[t]he consistent advice from environmentalists is ‘refuse’ single-use plastics,” he added.
Mary Mazzoni (October 25, 2018). “The complex and frustrating reality of recycling plastic.” EcoWatch