What’s a devoted recycler to do now that China is out of the paper and plastics collection business? Cities are reducing or cancelling their recycling programs since the market is gone. Shall we keep on dutifully dumping our pizza boxes and yogurt containers in those bins marked “commingled,” hoping that they don’t get buried as solid waste, dumped in the ocean, sent to the poorest third-world country, or burned in a pyre?
Thanks to China’s National Sword program, the veil has been lifted off recycling’s dirty secret: half of the plastic and much of the paper we deposited in our bins did not go to the local recycling center for eventual reuse but was crammed onto massive container ships and sent to China to be processed under the weakest environmental regulations or dumped to wash down the rivers and ultimately flow to the ocean.
The common narrative for our collapsed recycling market points to China and its 2018 policy to reject our contaminated recyclables. Not true, say both waste experts and environmentalists. Rather, recycling was a dysfunctional industry based on a faulty business model and sloppy processing practices. The US recycling rate has stagnated at about 35 percent since the turn of the century.Read Debby’s Full Article at Nonprofit Quarterly