Jack Johnson, Plastic Bottles, Recycling and Us (AND VIdeo)
Have some fun with Jack’s little ditty - offered in support of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, then find out more about those bottles!
The Recycling Myth
Collecting plastics at curbside fosters the belief that, like aluminum and glass, these will be converted into new similar objects. From one glass bottle we can make another glass bottle of similar quality, in an economic manner. However this is not the case with plastic. The best we can hope for plastics is that these will be turned into other products such as doormats, textiles, plastic lumber, etc.. These products will still end at some point in the landfill – and do NOT stem the need for more virgin petroleum product. This is NOT recycling, but down-cycling.
But not even this down-cycling is happening.
For instance, in the US 93% of plastics are NOT recovered (put in plastic “recycling” bins). These go straight to landfills. PET bottles that have a redemption value (cash value) fare a bit better: 62% are NOT recovered. (EPA data 2008)
How big is the problem? How much waste is generated by single use plastics? Artist Chris Jordan offers the following visualizations. Imagine 8 football fields covered thickly with plastic bottles: this is the equivalent to the number of plastic beverage bottles discarded in the US every five minutes (data: 2009)
Now imagine a line of plastic bottles going around the planet five times. This would be equivalent to the number of plastic bottles discarded every week in the US.. just for water! (data 2009)
Now imagine the waste created by all types of single use plastics put together, by all the countries in the world (the US is only 5% of the worlds population)… This includes plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic utensils, cups, containers and more.
It is hard to imagine… We simply need to stop this insane stream of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable, toxic waste.
In most parts of the world people struggle to build basic infrastructures such as schools and hospitals, and advanced waste management systems are beyond their reach. As a result, most of the developing nations in Asia, Latin America and Africa and literally drowning in plastic waste.
Plastic pollution will not be solved by encouraging “recycling”. Perpetuating the myth of plastic recycling creates a smoke curtain that delays the adoption of effective and sustainable solutions, such as producer responsibility and the phasing out of single-use plastics.
This post first appeared at the site of our content partner the Plastic Pollution Coalition and is the first of many.