Recycling Crisis: Is It True?


Sophie in West Paw bed 

The author's dog on her West Paw bed.

Plastics ruining the oceans are a common sight on both TV and internet news. I’m sure it’s a big problem and am doing what I can to stem the tide. Many of us Mother Earth News readers want to help but aren’t sure where to start. Read on to find out some of the challenges and solutions I’ve found to address this dilemma.

When I read a story in the Baltimore Sun’s June 24th issue about recycling efforts going to waste, I was shocked by the amount of items meant for single-stream recycling being sent to landfills. The article points out one of the most significant problems is consumers don’t know how to recycle correctly. The author also tells about China cutting back on purchasing our recycled paper, and other recycled items. Here are some of the things you can do to help recycling centers and the environment.

Clean those plastics you’re tossing in the bin. The good news is the recycling of single-use plastics like water bottles, soft drink bottles, yogurt containers, etc. is encouraged. The problem is, items must be reasonably clean for the facility that receives to process them or else these dirty items are worthless. Think of yogurt or peanut butter containers coated with remaining product, and it’s easy to see that would contaminate the mix when melted down. Then there are the half-full drink bottles tossed in the recycling container. Clean and empty all items you put in the recycling bin if you want them to have a chance at another life cycle.

Plastic straws are said to be non-recyclable and over 500 million per day are used and discarded. Just say no to straws that restaurants most often put in glasses of water and other drinks. Perfectly good non-plastic straws can be sourced from companies like Aardvark. I applaud Ted’s Montana Grill restaurants for adopting Aardvark's eco-friendly straw. Ted’s goes one step further. Instead of putting straws in all drinks, they place a container of Aardvark straws on each table and let consumers choose to use or not use a straw.

5/19/2020 1:07:27 PM

One of the most significant problems is finding recycling facilities. More are closing daily. Closest location that still takes recyclables is several counties away, and the check to make sure you you are a resident of their county. Maybe you can find someone within 50 miles to take aluminum or steel, but forget paper/cardboard, glass or plastic. I know of only one city in 50 or more miles that collects recyclables at the curb anymore.

3/5/2019 8:41:52 AM

Washing plastics before recycling is a complete waste. They are washed in bulk in hot water before recycling.

1/7/2019 5:37:54 PM

Recycling bins are a good idea but, as someone who has had to empty those bins, I find they are mainly used as trash bins and, in some cases. making those items meant for recycling unusable due to being covered in uneaten food, leftover drinks, and even mold.

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