The Fallacy of Recycling Plastics

Recycling is less of a reasonable solution to the plastics problems and more of a myth, shrouded in uncertainty towards the general public in terms of how effective it truly is. Polyethylene terephthalate plastic labeled as a “number 1” plastic and high-density polyethylene labeled as “number 2” are the main recyclable plastics. Most plastic isn’t recycled as is the case with glass or metal which can be melted down and used over and over again, but instead downcycled, in that they are used to create lower grade plastics used in things like park benches and plastic decking. Most plastics destined to be recycled which are produced in North America and Europe are shipped to China for processing. Recycling will not offset the plastic pollution being produced currently, as the rate of recycled plastic is approximately 30% meaning that for every plastic item we use, 70% of it is newly manufactured plastic, a value which will continue to grow for as long as human beings decide to continue to dump their wasted plastics in areas which are not publicly viewed (e.g. the ocean). Most plastic waste comes from plastic bags and plastic bottles. Collectively the world consumes 1,000,000 (1 million) plastic bags per minute and 28,300,000 (28.3 million) plastic bottles per minute. The plastics industry is the 3rd largest industry in the U.S., behind steel and vehicles, and is responsible for more than $400,000,000,000 ($400 billion) in product shipments per year. It is estimated that the average North American uses 300 – 700 plastic bags per year. By 2050, worldwide plastic production is projected to quadruple, reaching nearly 2,000,000,000,000 (2 trillion) lbs. per year

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