Saturday, March 3, 2018

Is more Plastic being recycled or buried in Landfills?

In the recycling world we know there is a market for aluminum but glass is not wanted. What about plastic? Is there a market for plastic or does it mostly end up in the landfills?

This was basically the question we received the other day via email.

The short answer to that question, unfortunately, is that most of the plastic produced ends up in the landfills or in the environment.

The long answer...

The main thing with recycling is that all that is collected needs to have a market, i.e. demand, to be a good commodity that haulers want. The better price they get paid for a commodity, the more willing to collect they will be.

Like any market, prices vary. Aluminum is always wanted; glass never wanted. Last we heard, cardboard was very much wanted.

With plastics, it depends on the price of oil - if that price is low, the market tends to buy new products and not resort to buying recyclables. And we have so much plastic that it is hard to find use for all of it! Most of it will end up in landfills or in the environment - iow, the oceans.

Besides that, plastic recycling is very confusing because the numbers printed in the middle of chasing arrows do not mean much and nobody knows exactly what is really accepted or not in the recycle bin. That ends up causing a lot of contamination (i.e. wrong things in the pile) and is not good for the market either.

The amount of plastic recycled in the US is about 9% - way low when compared against the amount that is produced... The EPA reported that only 3.5% of plastic was recycled in 2014.

Production of plastic keeps increasing and where are we putting most of that? In landfills.

Here are some links that you can refer to for more information on those numbers:

These reports and numbers in them show that most plastic is not recycled and will be buried or pollute our communities.

It's time to stop and think about how we are doing things and do better.

It's time to realize the damage we are causing and REDUCE the amount of plastic we accept, use, or buy.

Reduce is definitely the most important of the 3Rs - not only for plastic but for everything! If we reduce, we don't need to worry as much about the other 2 Rs because there is nothing to throw away.

After Reduce, then we should choose to reuse and then recycle - recycling is the last resort before landfilling. That has been our focus at Recycle Brevard from the beginning and it is a constant in our projects and educational programs.

To learn more about Recycle Brevard and what we do, contact us or come for a visit at our new facility in Rockledge.