Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The End of Recycling?

I've stated many times that I'm a conservationist.  I don't like to waste things.  If something can be reused or donated, I'm all for that.  If it makes economic sense to recycle, I'm all for that, too.  If not, we "recycle" only for secular-religious reasons:
After decades of earnest public-information campaigns, Americans are finally recycling. Airports, malls, schools, and office buildings across the country have bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans and newspapers. In some cities, you can be fined if inspectors discover that you haven’t recycled appropriately. 

But now much of that carefully sorted recycling is ending up in the trash. 

For decades, we were sending the bulk of our recycling to China—tons and tons of it, sent over on ships to be made into goods such as shoes and bags and new plastic products. But in 2018, the country restricted imports of certain recyclables, including mixed paper—magazines, office paper, junk mail—and most plastics. Waste-management companies across the country are telling towns, cities, and counties that there is no longer a market for their recycling. These municipalities have two choices: pay much higher rates to get rid of recycling, or throw it all away.


RT said...

After watching our local Garbage Company's truck pick up both the "Trash" and the "Recycling" in with the same truck I began to wonder a few things. First not wanting to be a tinfoil hat kind of guy I assume that the truck somehow keeps the "Trash" and the "Recycling" separate. Next, I wonder what happens once the truck is dumped.
Do not misunderstand; I am not saying anything strange is going on. What I am saying that there seems to be a general lack of understanding of just how the system works. Or could it be that the system is widely understood and it is just another feel-good without actually doing good exercise in futility?

Unknown said...

Recently, I was talking to someone who did some kind of a tour of a recycling center. They were soooooo impressed by how everything was processed. It was apparently amazing seeing all the "recycling" going on!

I pointed out that what they saw was "sorting", not recycling. Recycling doesn't happen until the item actually gets turned into something else that's useful.

That's the stage that has long been missing.

Unless there is actually a product at the end of the line that makes use of the trash, it's not recycling, it's sorting trash. Newsprint used to be recycled into lower quality paper, but that whole industry is basically dead. Glass bottles used to actually be recycled by getting returned to the bottler, cleaned, and refilled; but now, we are hauling heavy broken glass chips around the country with few end-use products for it. Even aluminum, which used to be the best item to recycle is now of diminishing value.

Throwing things in the blue bin is not recycling.

-- Ann in L.A.