While many of us try our best to recycle as much as possible, much of our effort is going to waste. According to a recent report from Greenpeace, "the amount of plastic actually turned into new things has fallen to new lows of around 5%." So why is this?
It's because "no plastic, not even soda bottles, one of the most prolific items thrown into recycling bins, meets the threshold to be called 'recyclable'." This alarming knowledge would come as a shock to anyone. After all, we are taught to recycle any and all plastic under the impression that it will make a difference for the planet.
What qualifies something as truly recyclable? There are standards in place by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation New Plastic Economy Initiative which says that "plastic must have a recycling rate of 30% to reach that standard; no plastic has ever been recycled and reused close to that rate."
Also alarming is that thousands of different kinds of plastic are currently in production worldwide, and essentially none of them can be melted down together. Not to mention the fact that the more plastic is reused, the more toxic it becomes.
So what can we do about this problem? For one, we can start viewing plastic as what it actually is - trash. If more consumers realize that plastic can't be recycled as they think, they can reach for plastic-free products.
Thankfully, by switching to plastic-free items, we as consumers can help reduce the demand and therefore the production of wasteful and harmful plastics.