Following our coverage of Greenpeace's "Circular Claims Fall Flat Again" report, a communications firm representing the Association of Plastic Recyclers reached out to us. Stephen Alexander, APR President, put out this counterstatement:
"While APR is still reviewing the report, it seems that Greenpeace is 'recycling' a number of misleading claims. For example, Greenpeace's claim that the rate for plastic recycling is 5% is not correct.
"When looking at plastic recycling, APR uses the amount of consumer-facing packaging produced. It appears that Greenpeace is using all plastics created as a denominator - that includes durable goods, playground equipment, railway ties, even toilet seats, that are meant to last many years as well as non-durable goods not intended for recycling such as garbage bags and other products. The plastic items that most Americans buy, use and put in their recycling bins – water and soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, yogurt tubs – do get recycled. Consumer packaging is made mostly of PET, HDPE and PP. Based on the latest EPA data, APR recently issued a report that found that 19% this kind of plastic packaging was recycled. The latest information available for PET and HDPE bottles is from 2020 and shows a recycling rate of 28%. PP bottles have a recycling rate of 17%."
"APR agrees that this recycling number must be improved, and recyclers have the capacity today to increase that rate to 42% but can't get the supply. It is unfortunate that Greenpeace and other critics of plastics use are focused on attacking the one solution to the plastic packaging sustainability problem that works: recycling.
"There will always be plastic packaging, so it is essential that it is sustainable. Recycling is the only vehicle to do this. If we want to be serious about tackling the plastic problem, we must be serious about strengthening recycling."
While I appreciate the work Alexander and the APR are doing, I'm still skeptical that they're going to be able to turn around an 81% non-recycling rate.
This is anecdotal, but: My wife and I recycle everything that can be recycled. I even hand-wash and air-dry the plastic film foods come wrapped in, because my local supermarket has a bin to collect it.
However, one of our dogs has a habit of getting into the neighbor's garbage can at night. Last year I found she'd dragged a torn-open bag of this neighbor's garbage halfway down our driveway. As I cleaned it up that morning, I saw the contents of the bag: Plastic soda bottles, aluminum beer cans, paper, cardboard--everything they discard, they put in regular trash. So everything my wife and I recycle is negated by the next household over. And they generate a lot more trash than we do.
At my local recycling center, there are large signs on the dumpsters saying "PLASTIC HERE," "METAL HERE," "PAPER HERE" etc. Despite this, you'll see every dumpster is filled with bags of every material type, all of them mixed.
The recycling center is out in the middle of nowhere, not convenient at all to get to. And the people who care enough to recycle everything into bags, then drive it all the way out to the center, can't be bothered to read the signs and properly sort it.
There's no way my county's unique. I really do think we're too dumb, selfish and lazy to recycle as a society.
That being said, Alexander has more to say on the subject on his LinkedIn page.
Speck Design partnered with Google's Schaft Robotics to create a functional skin for the Schaft robot.
Neurable, a Boston-based tech startup had a mission to bring BUI technology to everyday with groundbreaking EEG headphones to help...
Reusable, recyclable to-go food containers that replace single-use paper and Styrofoam boxes on college campuses and beyond.
Design brief: Custom-design, prototype, manufacture and deliver an updated, full store fixture package to 800 + stores across the US.
soft goods design firm, softgoods design firm, soft goods designer, softgoods designer, soft goods industrial designer, softgoods industrial designer, technical...
Routers are a pain to use; either they’re too slow, hard to use, and/or allow your IP to snoop and...
Don't have an account? Join Now
Create a Core77 Account
Already have an account? Sign In
Please enter your email and we will send an email to reset your password.
I agree that it's not just your county, and it's made worse by the rules and collection policies being different in almost every city/village/township. In my town, it's only metal cans, paper/cardboard (not shredded), and plastics #1 and #2 UNLESS it's a hinged produce container or a bag - those aren't allowed. Only plastic bottles and plastic jugs, and they must be washed out, crushed, and have the cap put back on. And all these items are mixed into one large, wheeled street can. Otherwise we are fined or the entire can is rejected. And collection is only every two weeks instead of the weekly collection of the past. And this is the fourth revision of collection policy for this town in the last 10 years. All this to say I agree that it's a losing battle on the home front.
Sarcastic sidenote: I like to imagine this world being studied by alien archaeologists well after the last human dies, and laugh at the idea that the head archaeologist will unearth two different plastic bags and note that one was discarded, but the other was reused, and that neither one counts as a recycling failure because they weren't intended to be recycled anyway.