While click-bait titles about how recycling is ineffective will garner clicks, they do very little to paint an accurate picture of why recycling is so ineffective on a national scale.
Consider this article from Core77. While the facts in it are true, they are presented without context creating a grim picture, and ultimately contributing to the problem. After all, if recycling is ineffective, why bother recycling? And if you don't bother to recycle, the numbers become more and more concerning, feeding into a vicious cycle and a race to the bottom.
First, our recycling rate is abysmal as a country because so many municipalities simply do not recycle. It is not the failure of the system if no system has ever been in place. COVID-19 exacerbated the issue when many municipalities nation wide suspended all recycling due to health and cost concerns. Not only does this mean that all of their material is sent to landfill, it also means that people fall out of the habit of recycling, leading to low efficacy when the programs return.
Second, much of the material that is segregated for recycling is sent to landfill anyway. This is due to a fundamental misunderstanding of how "clean" a recyclable must be in order to be recycled. While your stained tupperware doesn't need to be pristine in order to be recycled, it does need to be empty of food. A full tupperware of spoiled yogurt, for example, should either be emptied and rinsed, or else thrown in the garbage altogether to avoid contamination of other recyclable materials. Liquids, oils, foods, and other contaminants can ruin bags worth of recyclables, rendering them irretrievable.
Undoubtedly the greatest and most effective way to combat plastic waste is to put the onus on manufacturers, but it cannot be understated that solid infrastructure and clear education are invaluable in increasing all forms of recycling.
If you are looking to set up a clear and comprehensive waste and recycling system, Diverse is here to help. Reach out today to see what you can do to make a brighter, healthier tomorrow.
If you are looking to set up a clear and comprehensive waste and recycling system, or make the most of one you already have, Diverse is here to help. Reach out today to see what you can do to make a brighter, healthier tomorrow.