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  • Writer's pictureRRC

The Good, Bad, and Better About Recyling

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

Putting out the recycling bin on the collection day makes us feel good. But how much is it actually helping the world? Don't stop recycling but maybe there are even better ways to do our part for mother earth.


The Good

Recycling does benefit the world. Take aluminum for example, despite the carbon emission involved in collection, transport, and processing, recycled aluminum is about 95 percent less energy-intensive to forge than its raw alternative. The calculation varies for different materials.


Each year about 30% of municipal wastes are put into the recycle stream. That is about 70 million tons of garbage. So, by all means, keep on recycling.


The Bad

Don't assume what you put into the recycling will be reborn into new goods. Take plastics as an example, only 2 of the 7 types of plastics tend to be recycled. No more than 10% of plastic produced is ever recycled.

"So, whether you recycle that plastic bag, it'll most likely end up in a landfill, the ocean, or incinerator."

Where recycling, manufacturers generally find that they also have to dose the recycled plastic with some new plastic too since when plastic is recycled its polymer structure begin to weaken and break down. So, new plastics are added to create the "recycled" material.


Most people believe that packaging is widely recycled and so the industry simply slaps on some recycling symbols, spends money advertising a lot about the benefits of recycling and, more-or-less, carries on as usual. Meanwhile, behind closed doors the industry knows that widespread plastic recycling is unlikely to ever be economically viable.


Until recently, it was cheaper to export plastic waste than to invest in recycling capacity domestically. However, countries like China, Malaysia and the Philippines have since stopped accepting plastic waste from the U.S. As a result, some cities have resorted to incinerating plastics because there simply isn’t anywhere to actually recycle them here in the U.S. Burning plastic is a major cause of air pollution. It releases toxic gases like dioxins, furans, mercury and BCPs into the atmosphere, where it poses a threat to plant, human and animal health.


The Better: Reduce, Reuse


Most plastic products, from food wraps to coffee cups, can release estrogen-like chemicals. Re-usable cups may help you more than you know.

We can’t rely on recycling to get us out of the environmental crisis we have created. These small inconveniences will go a long way to ensure our children, grandchildren will have a chance to prosper on this planet.

  • Bring reusable water bottles

  • Bring reusable coffee mugs

  • Bring shopping bags

  • Turn down unnecessary packaging

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1件のコメント


I love that I can opt out of that mile long printed receipt at CVS now. I wonder if I'm making any impact by refusing all those receipts when I shop?

いいね!
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