Happy New Year! Sorry for the late wishes. We are not quite sure where January went, but as we approach February we are moving forward with our New Year’s resolution to reduce the amount of plastic waste that we produce across all areas of our lives. We have always recycled, but in recent months Louise’s husband, Tom has been doing more research on the what is actually happening to the plastic that we put in our recycle bin and the news is not good.
Did you know even if your local trash collector says they are recycling everything you put into your bin, that in fact, some or all of it is probably ending up in the landfill? Really? That was our first reaction and here is what our research produced:
In a recent interview, David Kaplan, the CEO of Maine Plastics , a post-industrial recycler, explained about the current recycling practices here in the US. He said that plastics with numbers 3-7 are absolutely not being recycled and are going to a landfill because China is no longer taking these plastics. This has been happening since the launching of an initiative known as ‘Green Fence’ by the Chinese government which was to help reduce their pollution. The policy bans the import of all but the cleanest, most tidily organized bales of reusable rubbish. The program was supposed to end in November of 2013, but as suspected by the recycling companies, it looks like Green Fence is here to stay. Mr. Kaplan believes that the plastics #3-7 will continue to end up in landfills until the United States can economically recycle these plastics.
So unfortunately not all plastic that is put into a bin is getting recycled and only 9% of all plastic even makes it into a recycling bin. So what happens to the other 91%? Some of it ends up in a landfill but a fair amount ends up in our oceans. Around 8 million metric tons go into the oceans each year, according to the first rigorous global estimate published in Science today. That’s equivalent to 16 shopping bags full of plastic for every meter of coastline (excluding Antarctica). By 2025 we will be putting enough plastic in the ocean (on our most conservative estimates) to cover 5% of the earth’s entire surface in cling film each year. Those are some scary statistics. But what really made us rethink our plastic addiction was the report from The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics, which analyzed the flow of materials around the world and predicted that, given the projected growth in plastic production, by 2050 oceans could contain more plastics than fish.
In the year 2050, our children and nieces and nephews will be close to our ages. We want them to be able to enjoy nature as much as we do today. Therefore, we are making a change. At home and at the office we are going to reduce the amount of plastic that we use and at the same time we are going to recycle as much plastic material as we can in order to decrease the amount of garbage that we produce. It is not easy. Once you stop and pay attention to the amount of plastic that is around, the task seems daunting. We believe we have to start somewhere! We cannot let this make us complacent, nor paralyzed.
In our next blog we will tell you how we are doing it! Please come back and pass this along to your friends and family.
We are all in this together.
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