Thursday, September 19, 2013

Recycling Redux

According to this article on Daily Kos, the world of recycling has changed, especially for Americans.  Up until recently, quite of bit of our plastic recycling (mainly plastics number 3 through 7) have been exported to China.  However, China recently adopted the Green Fence Policy, as part of a strategy to reduce their carbon emissions. This policy bans imports of plastic for recycling (and can you blame them?) and leaves Americans holding the bag - or the bottle - because we don't have the infrastructure for recycling most types of plastic.  Some Americans see this new policy as an opportunity for businesses.  

In the meantime, while we wait for entrepreneurs to come up with a plan and set it in motion, plastic waste labeled 3 through 7 will go to landfill.  So for those of us who felt that little damage was done when buying items packaged in these plastics because "we recycle," we need to focus more on the refusing and reducing part of the sustainability equation.  Even if we're able to recycle those plastics in the U.S., it's still a good idea to minimize their use because the manufacturing process alone creates toxins that are released into our world.  Recycling doesn't erase that fact.


EcoGrrl said...

I think it's important for folks also to know that plastic is not actually RE-cycled, it's DOWN-cycled, meaning one plastic bottle put in the recycling bin doesn't make another. The materials can only be made into lesser items, like decking and such (that ends up being non-recyclable).

One of the things I pay close attention to is when I'm grocery shopping, I only buy bottled items in glass - if it's only a plastic option, I have learned to go without.

It would be GREAT if all of the existing plastic in the dumps could be pulled up and used for construction materials and save the forests & other raw materials, don't you think? (like this bridge in Scotland:

Shona~ LALA dex press said...

After reading the Beth Terry "Plastic Free Life" book- MAN! the stuff I did not know. I've always gravitated towards no packaging/ reused packaging (my French lidded jars and the bulk aisle), glass over plastic but I really did not know how bad it was in terms of downcycling and even just how much (or rather ho little) paper can be downcycled.

Ug! My head is spinning!

Cherie said...

EcoGrrl, I need to get better about educating people on the details of "recycling."

Shona, I've read Beth's blog over the years but it sounds like I need to read her book, too. You always have the best book recommendations! I feel like I'm a glutton for punishment but if we don't know the truth we can't make real and important changes in the way we live.