Life in plastic?

Why recycling plastic is a dead-end street

In the search for a sustainable lifestyle, great discussions revolve around recycling plastic to limit waste. Unfortunately, that is not a solution.

The plastic report by Greenpeace

A new Greenpeace USA report – the source of this post – states that “plastic recycling is a dead-end street. Year after year, plastic recycling declines even as plastic waste increases.”

The good news is that paper, cardboard and metals are effectively recycled. But the bad news is that most plastic is not recyclable.

According to this report, U.S. households generated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, but only 2.4 million tons were recycled.

Furthermore, once the U.S. exported plastic to China, they counted it as recycled, even though much of it was burned or dumped.

Plastic recycling: why doesn’t it work?

1- plastic waste is extremely difficult to collect
2- impossible to sort for recycling
3- it is environmentally harmful to reprocess
4- it’s often made of and contaminated by toxic materials (therefore unusable for food)
5- too expensive to recycle

Eventually, a circular economy based on recycling plastic is pure fiction.

“Corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Unilever have worked with industry front groups to promote plastic recycling as the solution to plastic waste for decades. But the data is clear: practically speaking, most plastic is just not recyclable. The real solution is to switch to systems of reuse and refill.”

Greenpeace

Of course, refilling and reusing make sense. We refill and reuse plastic containers as much as possible. But plastic is everywhere! And there’s too much of it! Every single item we buy comes with a plastic container and plastic wrap: food, beauty products, cleaning products, and tech stuff…
Therefore, that is not sufficient to solve the plastic waste issue.

The solution? Governments should put an end to plastic production.