According to a major survey of hundreds of recycling facilities throughout the US, a lot of the plastic items which Americans put in their bins for recycling aren’t being recycled at all!
The survey was done by Greenpeace and its results showed that out of the 367 recycling facilities surveyed, none could recycle the coffee pods, fewer than 15 percent accepted plastic clamshells, and only a small percentage of them recycled cups, bags, trays, and plates.
These findings are a confirmation of a last year’s Guardian investigation that concluded that the various types of plastics are sent to landfills.
The findings by Greenpeace also point out that many of the products that are labeled recyclable have no market as new products.
Is there any Recycling Market at All?
The report did conclude that the recycling market is going strong for bottles and jugs made of #1 or #2 plastic like water bottles and milk containers.
However, it has failed for a lot of plastics labeled from #3 to #7 or the mixed plastic categories.
Even though many brands label them as recyclable materials, these plastics are difficult for repurposing and thus, end up in the landfills, making consumers confused.
According to John Hocevar, director of the Oceans Campaign by Greenpeace, this report shows us that we should stop claiming that everything is recyclable.
He points out the need of talking about companies about not making that much single-use plastic which ends up filling our oceans or the incinerators.
Greenpeace also threatened to file federal complaints against the manufacturers that mislead the public about the recyclability of their packaging.
Some Plastic Is Recyclable, but not Every
Jan Dell, the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup who’s also the lead of the survey team of Greenpeace says that the aim of this report isn’t to kill recycling, but to show that there are products which can be recycled and products which can’t.
She added that jugs and bottles are worth recycling; however, many items like plates, cutlery, trays, etc. aren’t- they’re contaminants.
Martin Bourque, director of the Californian Ecology Center that handle recycling for Berkeley, said that they’re spending around $50,000 per year to try and recycle the unrecyclable stuff.
They pay to send the mixed plastic to a facility in the south of California and 50 percent of it still gets thrown away.
According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides, marketers have to make sure that the interpretations of their claims are true, not misleading, and supported by a reasonable basis.