You Can’t Fake Plastic – Recycling the Truth

We have been trained to feel good about putting our plastic discards in the Blue Bin – “I am doing my part, so back off!”  Some people believe that their plastic bottles go off to magic land, get cleaned, and get reused.  Nice.  Most recycled plastic at best becomes new secondary products such as textiles, parking lot bumpers, or plastic lumber – can’t recycle those things – not new plastic bottles.  So all this recycling we are doing is not recycling per se and it does not reduce the use of virgin materials in plastic packaging.
Unfortunately, curbside plastic collection programs, intended to reduce municipal plastic waste, sometimes actually lead to more plastic going to landfills as people purchase more plastic items falsely believing that everything is being recycled – many studies have shown this.  The sad truth is that plastic manufacturers are not required to used recycled plastic resins for new bottles and bags, so they just keep cranking out more plastic.  A lot of time and energy has been spent on developing and implementing a recycling number system for consumer plastics – so hard to remember those damn numbers – but the only number we ever needed was zero,…cuz that’s about what all of this stuff adds up to.
Plastic packaging creates a variety of problems including: consumption of fossil resources; pollution; high energy use in manufacturing; accumulation of wasted plastic in the environment; and migration of polymers and additives into foods.  We can curb our plastic consumption by using refillable containers, buying in bulk, buying things that don’t need much packaging, and buying things in recyclable and recycled packages – glass, paper, etc.

We have enough plastic in LA already – not talking implants, here.  You can do your part – and feel good about it – by saying no to plastic and challenging our current system of faux recycling.


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