I remember the beginnings of the packaging industry. In the mid sixties paper started getting various coatings of mylar and other plastics.
Extruders melting train car loads of poly pellets into plastics, from sea to sea.
I continue to be amazed at all the “green” organic food brands that come in containers where they either lie about their recyclability (those rectangular tubs for fresh leafy greens), and/or proceed to slap labels on them that render the container unrecyclable. This is especially egregious with glass containers - which are eminently recyclable but almost always just go to the landfill (yes, even in bottle deposit states).
Meanwhile, in Europe, virtually all glass bottles get recycled or refilled, and in many countries, 90 percent of plastic gets recycled. How do they do it? All manufacturers are required by law to provide for the re-use of every container they make, so the containers and labeling are all standardized. Also, households are required to sort their containers. They also employ technology that is science-fiction magic by the backward USAn standards, like machines that can sort coarse sand-sized crushed bottle glass by green, clear and brown colors.
But all that is impossible here, it is “socialism” and imposing federal recycling standards will “turn us into Venezuela…”
Great post. The entire operation of packaging and product design for recycling needs a complete overhaul in this country. This is a significant enough issue I wish I would hear the candidates talk about it. Trader Joes has said they are rolling out better packaging (biodegradable wrapping for flowers, no more wrapping tea bags on plastic etc. There are real true biodegradable packaging materials - we just need the regulation and taxing of the other options to get the right behavior. Overall I favor using recycling for glass, metal, paper, but I think plastic recycling never lived up to the hype - most of it would be better off with biodegradable or “compostable in industrial facilities” - and in these cases a bunch of food contamination should be tolerated.
Maybe I’ll live to see some better answers applied on this side of the pond. On this and many things I want more looks at how Europe does things.
Recycling is a scam to make the public pay for the costs of plastics manufacture.
Passing the responsibility for plastic recycling and costs onto the public incentivizes manufacturers to make more plastics instead of going to returnables, biodegradable and reusable containers.
We need a cradle to grave tax on all plastics manufacturers.
A planet in dire need of refuge from refuse
In El Paso, Texas, their recycling program basically doesn’t allow most recyclables anyway. They go right in the trash and out to the dump.
I can remember when I was a child the milkman delivering a glass quart bottle of milk about every other day. We could easily mandate going back to using glass bottles for milk and other beverages that are recyclable, but I guess big buss. and Wall Street, realize greater profit in plastic.
While its good to know that plastics can’t just be recycled like we are led to believe (why am I not surprised?), I was surprised that there’s no mention of the African nations that have been buying USA plastic waste and having it just pile up because only about 10% of it is recyclable. Its turning their countries into waste dumps.
The present consumer-industrial system is not ‘sustainable’ (yes, squishy word choice) on so many levels. Not least of which, it is all based on the neoliberal-economic fiction of inexhaustible resources and unending abundance from a one-time sugar high of fossil resources, most of which are now on the declining side of the bell curve.
Ignorance (or outright denial) of basic science and arithmetic seems to be the hallmark of of our increasingly irrational civilization. But localization of economies in a world of declining energy abundance is the solution - and the inevitable outcome, one way or the other.
And just wait till they burn it, which they will eventually do, thereby adding more pollution.
Actually, with the exception of plastics that have chlorine, plastics can be burned like fuel oil. However, we don’t need that CO2 in the atmosphere.