Plastic Recycling Is a Myth

Recycle bins have become commonplace, with people now making an effort to separate their “garbage” from trash that can be recycled and made into other products. Paper and cardboard goes to mills, while glass is washed and reused or smashed and melted. The U.S. is the world’s most wasteful nation, producing four pounds of waste per person per day. What most people don’t know is that most recycling companies had been sending plastic trash to China, but two years ago China closed its doors to plastics recycling. Yet, the industry spent millions telling people to recycle because selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn't true. Here's the basic problem: All used plastic can be turned into new things, but picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic also degrades each time it’s reused, meaning it can't be reused more than once or twice. Documents show industry officials knew this reality about recycling plastic as far back as the 1970s. Recently, an industry advocacy group funded by the nation's largest oil and plastic companies launched its most expensive effort yet to promote recycling and cleanup of plastic waste, but experts see an industry that doesn't want recycling to work, because if the job is to sell as much oil as you possibly can, any amount of recycled plastic is competition.