Need to Know

Big Companies are Pushing Recycling, but Plastic Bottles are Still Heading to Landfills

The Chinese import ban means many efforts to recycle are being made in vain.

Over the last year, several corporations including McDonald’s Corp., Coca-Cola Co. and Apple Inc. have announced ambitious plans to embrace recycled content in their products and packaging.

Despite such commitments, China’s recent import ban has resulted in tons of U.S. plastic waste with no destination other than a landfill. Efforts by consumers and producers to sort and recycle plastic are often being wasted as a consequence.

In light of the Chinese ban, environmental experts are emphasizing the importance of reducing along with recycling.

Bloomberg Businessweek has more information:

6. What will happen to consumer recycling?

It’s possible that countries including India, Thailand and Vietnam could become bigger buyers. Local paper mills might benefit from the added supply of low-cost scrap to make cardboard. Some U.S. waste haulers are upgrading equipment and hiring more workers hoping to meet China’s strict new standards for clean materials. And recycling supporters hope this might spur the U.S. and other nations to finally move to a waste-free future. But in the near term, some communities have suspended collections and others are already sending recyclables to landfills.

7. What are environmentalists saying?

While they are all for recycling, they also say consumers should buy less stuff in the first place. Greenpeace has criticized Apple for making products that are only supposed to last three years. Greenpeace has also called out many companies, including Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and McDonald’s for encouraging the use of cheap, disposable plastics that end up in the ocean.

Read the full story here.

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