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‘A failed concept’: Study says only 5% of plastic waste actually recycled

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Recycling plastic has long been branded as a way to help reduce the use of energy and save the environment. But a new study is calling it a failed concept.

Titled “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again,” the study found that of 51 million tons of plastic waste generated by U.S. households in 2021, only 2.4 million tons were recycled, or around 5%. The vast majority of plastic Americans throw into blue recycling bins goes in a landfill.

The Greenpeace data disputes figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA estimated that in 2018, 9% of all plastics were recycled.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic products and containers need to have at least a 30% recycle rate to truly be considered recyclable.

Greenpeace said most plastics, including soda bottles, don’t meet that standard. Therefore, recycle rates are expected to go even lower.

Waste management experts believe the problem is that plastic is expensive to sort and collect but has become cheaper and easier to produce.

One piece of plastic can take up to 400 years to break down in a landfill, according to the EPA.

Right now the U.S. is the biggest producer of plastic waste on the planet, followed by India, China and Brazil.

MAHMOUD BENNETT: RECYCLING PLASTIC HAS FOR DECADES BEEN BRANDED A WAY TO HELP REDUCE THE USE OF ENERGY AND SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT – BUT A NEW STUDY IS CALLING IT A FAILED CONCEPT.

JUST 5% OF PLASTIC PRODUCTS ARE RECYCLED IN AMERICA, WHILE THE VAST MAJORITY OF PLASTIC YOU THROW INTO THOSE BLUE RECYCLING BINS HEAD TO A LANDFILL – THAT’S ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT FROM GREEN PEACE, A NON-PROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION.

THEIR DATA DISPUTES 2018 FIGURES FROM THE EPA  – WHICH ESTIMATED THAT MORE LIKE 9% OF ALL PLASTICS WERE RECYCLED.

STILL THE FIGURES ARE LOW – ACCORDING TO THE ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION PLASTIC PRODUCTS AND CONTAINERS NEED TO HAVE AT LEAST A 30% RECYCLE RATE – TO TRULY BE CONSIDERED “RECYCLABLE”.

GREEN PEACE SAYS VIRTUALLY NOTHING – NOT EVEN PLASTIC SODA BOTTLES MEET THAT STANDARD AND THAT RECYCLE RATES ARE EXPECTED TO GO EVEN LOWER.

WASTE MANAGEMENT EXPERTS BELIEVE THE ISSUE IS THAT PLASTIC IS EXPENSIVE TO SORT AND COLLECT BUT HAS BECOME CHEAPER AND EASIER TO PRODUCE.

A GIVEN PIECE OF PLASTIC CAN TAKE UP TO 400 YEARS TO BREAK DOWN IN A LANDFILL ACCORDING TO THE EPA.

RIGHT NOW THE U.S. IS THE BIGGEST PRODUCER OF PLASTIC WASTE ON THE PLANET, FOLLOWED BY INDIA, CHINA AND BRAZIL.

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Recycling plastic has long been branded as a way to help reduce the use of energy and save the environment. But a new study is calling it a failed concept.

Titled “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again,” the study found that of 51 million tons of plastic waste generated by U.S. households in 2021, only 2.4 million tons were recycled, or around 5%. The vast majority of plastic Americans throw into blue recycling bins goes in a landfill.

The Greenpeace data disputes figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA estimated that in 2018, 9% of all plastics were recycled.

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic products and containers need to have at least a 30% recycle rate to truly be considered recyclable.

Greenpeace said most plastics, including soda bottles, don’t meet that standard. Therefore, recycle rates are expected to go even lower.

Waste management experts believe the problem is that plastic is expensive to sort and collect but has become cheaper and easier to produce.

One piece of plastic can take up to 400 years to break down in a landfill, according to the EPA.

Right now the U.S. is the biggest producer of plastic waste on the planet, followed by India, China and Brazil.

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