Beyond bottles, film and containers, many communities are recycling other plastics, such as protective packaging, bulky rigids, foodservice packaging, pallets and drums.
I recently read a well-researched article in the . The article details Berkeley, California’s behind-the-scenes issues with the recycling of plastics within their community. It further highlights the problems of the “recycle” mantra of the plastics industry.
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For many years, the city of Berkeley has encouraged its residents to reduce plastic use, apparently without success. According to plastic that is headed towards Berkeley’s landfill has exploded, increasing 31 percent by weight between the years 2000 and 2008, while the overall waste the Berkeley residents produced, decreased by 2 percent. of Berkeley, a community based organization, has attempted to raise awareness with residents of Berkeley on what exactly belongs in blue bins, and what does not.
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Now, this article is strictly about Berkeley, California. But do you think that Berkeley is the only community that has this issue, where well-meaning residents are tossing items into their blue recycling bins, only to have the items end up in their local landfill? I don’t think so. In fact, the problem seems to be nation-wide:
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The ACC and plastic bag manufacturers continually insist that recycling of plastics is the wave of the future and send feel-good messages that consumers who utilize single-use plastics, then put them into their blue recycle bins are doing the right thing and that their efforts will result in the repurposing of plastic into wonderful new products.
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But the real truth about plastics is there is little existing infrastructure in place to handle what consumers perceive as items that should be recyclable, and the cost of building these facilities is prohibitive.
Isn’t it better for all of us and the future of our planet if we take a moment when we make our purchases? Do we need to buy our produce pre-packaged? Do we need to buy a TV dinner, when we could make the same product in our kitchen? Do we need to use a plastic produce bag when buying a banana? Do any of these decisions negatively impact our quality of life?