Ross: Recycling doesn’t work, but it could if we try

Oct 25, 2022, 8:06 AM | Updated: 10:21 am


(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Here it is, another article informing us that sorting your plastic containers is mostly a waste of time. But this report isn’t from some environment-hating anti-earth society, this time it’s from a group called Greenpeace, maybe you’ve heard of it.

They love the earth and everything on it – except corporations that make plastic.

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Because as much as Greenpeace loves recycling, their latest data shows it’s been a failure.

Greenpeace found that American households brought home about 51 million tons of plastic in 2021, and managed to recycle all of 2.4 million. This meant 48.6 million unrecycled tons – in that one year – were dumped somewhere to remain for eternity.

That’s 293 pounds per American. That’s a mound of plastic the size of a linebacker. Every year. For every person, just in the US.

Greenpeace says even at its peak in 2014 plastic recycling only hit … 9.5%. And it’s been dropping ever since.

Even the most useful plastic – the coveted #1, the kind used for bottles and jugs – only reached a 21% recycling rate, and it’s much worse for the higher numbers.

We all knew this wasn’t working. One look in your recycle bin told you that. If there was a use for all that plastic, your garbage rates would be going down. Someone would be paying for your plastic – or at least stealing it. Hey – no problem recycling your catalytic converter, right? That sucker gets recycled before you’re even done with it. It’s worth something. But plastic? Even Greenpeace is saying it’s not worth recycling.

So now what do we do?

Greenpeace wants a global plastics treaty, which sounds to me like it’ll take about a hundred years. So in the meantime – why not go back to frozen concentrate in cans? More aluminum containers?

The ten states that pay for recycled aluminum have a 90% recycling rate.

No more wishful sorting.

And all the oil saved by not making plastic can go into making gasoline – which, yes, adds to climate change, but then when the earth does finally burn up, at least it won’t smell of melted plastic.

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Ross: Recycling doesn’t work, but it could if we try