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Saturday, December 2, 2023

The Problem with Plastic Pt.2 – The Recycling Lie

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In my last article, I explored the frightening reasons behind why plastic is being found in breast milk, and in all systems in humans and fetuses. The environmental impact of disposing billions of tons of non-biodegradable and toxic plastic waste into our landfills and oceans are now coming home to roost. It would seem that in the face of a never-ending demand and cheap cost, the only logical solution would be to recycle as much, if not all of the waste that is accumulated as a result. Fortunately, we have seen much greater attempts by manufacturing companies, and on the political level as well. Unfortunately, it’s all a lie.

       Greenpeace has just released a scathing report on plastic recycling efforts worldwide. The report cites that in the U.S. alone, 51 million tons of plastic waste was generated by households alone. Of that, only 2.4 million tons were recycled, which is 5%. Yet oddly, manufacturing rates continued to rise. Although the harmful effects of plastic on every aspect of human health and the environment are widely known, no real effort is being taken by any companies or political leaders to combat this toxic equation. Money will always win the day and the fact is that plastic is extremely inexpensive to manufacture and produce. The problem comes at the long-term cost for short term solutions. According to the World Population Review, since 1950, approximately 8 billion tons of plastic waste has been produced worldwide. Of that, only 9% has been recycled. The rest went straight to landfills and the oceans. This toxic waste eventually seeps into the soil and groundwater where it is eventually consumed and absorbed into humans. Below is a list of the top 10 plastic waste producing countries in 2021 followed by how much waste was produced, and what percentage was recycled.

  1. United States – 48.3 million tons (5%)
  2. India – 29 million tons (50%)
  3. China – 23.7 million tons (31%)
  4. Brazil – 11.7 million tons (4%)
  5. Indonesia – 10 million tons (9%)
  6. Russia – 9.25 million tons (12%) 
  7. Germany – 7.25 million tons (66%)
  8. UK – 7.05 million tons (43%)
  9. Mexico – 6.5 million tons (14.5%)
  10. Japan – 5.3 million tons (85%)

The vast majority of unrecycled plastic waste gets shipped straight to landfills where it is buried en masse to seep into the surrounding environment for countless decades to come. The rest of it winds up in our oceans where this is having a catastrophic effect on worldwide marine populations. 100 million marine animals die from plastic waste alone each year. This same waste is also consumed by the fish in these oceans, which then are transported to humans as we consume seafood. This waste has especially been disastrous for worldwide sea turtle, sea lion, and seal populations. Their respective numbers have decreased considerably due to plastic waste. Below is a list of the top ten worst offenders when it comes to dumping plastic waste in the ocean followed by how many tons were dumped last year.

  1. India – 305,000 tons
  2. China – 172,000 tons
  3. Indonesia – 137,000 tons
  4. Brazil – 42,000 tons
  5. Thailand – 25,100 tons
  6. Mexico – 4,000 tons
  7. Egypt – 2,750 tons
  8. United States – 2,600 tons
  9. Japan – 1,800 tons
  10. UK – 775 tons

The sad truth is that plastic production is continuing to rise and is predicted to keep rising well into the foreseeable. The worldwide plastic recycling rate is 18% with numbers declining annually. As for all of the chatter by companies and politicians alike about the ambitious recycling efforts that are being implemented, it’s all just lip service. These companies recycle a mere fraction of what they produce, and their only concern has and will always be profit. Just like the politicians they donate to ensure that they are not held accountable in any way for the damage they knowingly wreak. Sadly, these actions have not only endangered our health and environment but has also ensured that future generations to come will also suffer the same, if not worse effects, than we’ve already wrought.

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