We drink a Coca-Cola, put the bottle into the recycling bin, and then what happens to recycling waste?
What really happens to the recycling waste?
Each city, each council, each state has different recycling facilities. So even if a product says “recyclable”, it is impossible to know if it is actually going to be recycled.
In countries like the UK or the US, many recycling plants will sort the waste, but much of the actual recycling will be loaded on to container ships to be sent to other countries. Most developed nations produce more waste than they can process at home: the US, the world’s most wasteful nation, produces 2kg (4 pounds) per person per day.
In 2018, China refused to take on the trash from the rest of the world. So all the recycling waste went to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia. The waste is burned in open landfills, illegal sites or facilities with inadequate reporting, making its final fate difficult to trace. A Greenpeace Unearthed investigation in 2018 found mountains of European waste in illegal dumps in Malaysia, where waste is often burned or abandoned, eventually finding its way into rivers and oceans.
Of the 8.3bn tonnes of virgin plastic produced worldwide, only 9% has ever been recycled, according to a 2017 Science Advances paper entitled Production, Use And Fate Of All Plastics Ever Made.
Is recycling a myth?
Yes, recycling as we imagine is a myth. When we put a plastic bottle in the recycling bin, it does not turn into another plastic bottle. This is called downcycling. Odds are, it probably doesn’t even get recycled at all and ends in a dump somewhere in another country.
So, how can you reduce waste at your level?
Individual eco-friendly changes can have a big impact.
We’ll give you some examples of small habits you can adopt to help make things better.
1- Use a reusable bottle/cup for beverages
2- Use reusable grocery bags, and not just for groceries
3- Always avoid single-use items!
4- Buy secondhand items and donate used goods
5- Remember the 3R’s: REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!
If you want to know more tips of this kind we invite you to go and see the article by Rhianne Jordan.
Before buying something, think first: do I really need it? If you do, try to reuse it as many times as you can before disposing it, you can also repurpose it or repair it if it breaks. Recycling should be the last alternative.
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