California (and the whole planet ) needs to get over recycling

by topic_admin

It does not do the job. Let’s discuss circularity instead.

California isalso, without a doubt, leading the United States in the fight against plastic pollution. The condition has outlawed plastic straws unless asked and thin plastic shopping bags. San Francisco did away with disposable water bottles and Berkeley recently passed an ordinance which will charge 25 pennies for takeout cups and also make all meals accessories available by request only.

Now the condition is looking to create wider, more comprehensive modifications. New legislation has been declared last Wednesday that could require all of plastic materials sold in California to be reusable, fully recyclable, or compostable by 2030.

The Los Angeles Times reports that this legislation would also require the condition to recycle or divert from landfills 75 percentage of plastic packaging marketed or distributed in California, upward from 44 percentage in 2017.

The legislation has been introduced by Senator Ben Allen, who said,

“We can’t keep ignoring the public health and pollution threat posed by mounting plastic waste. Every day Californians generate tons of non-recyclable, non-compostable waste that clog landfills, rivers, and beaches.”

At first glance, it looks like a fantastic idea — until you cease to consider precisely how broken the recycling system is. The aims of reusing and composting are right on course, however recycling is not on the same degree as these other two. Recycling is virtually non-existent; it’s wishful thinking, in a progressive state like California, and needs to be relegated to the past. What we need to be focusing instead is circularity, closed loop manufacturing, reusability, and accurate biodegradability.

To quotation from the brand new Life Without Plastic novel by Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha, “Only 9.4 percent of all discarded plastics were recycled in the United States in 2014… The solution to our plastic problem is not to recycle more, it is to consume less plastic.”

None of this must come as information to Allen along with other senators, if they’ve been following the condition of California’s recycling system. It’s a comprehensive disaster. People throw ridiculous things into their blue bins (diapers, shattered pottery, etc.) and the slightest bit of contamination (dirt, food, stool, and mixed materials like paper envelopes with plastic windows) requires additional labour to separate. As the LA Times reported, “It doesn’t pay to tear the stuff apart. Off to the landfill.”

When recycling does happen, it’s barely worth the campaign because China isn’t paying for it . I composed ,

“A ton of newsprint that went for $100 a year ago is now only worth $5, and it’s cheaper to make bottles from virgin plastic than from recycled… People are supposed to be able to return bottles and cans to a recycling center for 5 to 10 cents apiece, but 40 percent of centers have closed in the last two years because of the low material values.”

Allen recognizes this, saying that California only recycles 15 percentage of the single-use plastic it creates, in part because “the cost of recycling plastics exceeds the value of the resulting material.” So why suggest this as a green solution to the condition? It’s obviously a dead-end — maybe not to mention the truth that plastic can not even be really recycled. It’s only ever down-cycled into a lesser, weaker version of itself, and ends up in landfill.

I wish that authorities would dare to think more aggressively and creatively about the way to fight plastic — state, outlawing all single-use plastics which are deemed non-necessary (excepting medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, food handling tools, etc. who have no other option at this point); requiring shops to eliminate all plastic packaging and extend majority options with refillable containers; subsidizing doorstep deliveries of milk in glass bottles and much more; mandating reusable food containers in cafeterias; and requiring washing machine retrofits to catch synthetic microfibers.

Who knows, perhaps a few of these things will come about if the legislation emphasizes the’reusability’ and’compostability’ elements of its target — however I fear which the lawmakers will get sucked into the myth which recycling really works and could be an effective solution to this jumble we find ourselves in. It’s never was, and never will be.

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