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How Wishcycling is Threatening the Economics of the Recycling Industry

Recycling more materials is only effective if the materials are actually recyclable.

More and more residents and businesses are stepping up to divert more materials from landfill, but what they are tossing into recycling bins isn’t always recyclable. Mixing these nonrecyclables in with recyclables leads to contamination, which ultimately leads to materials being sent to landfill.

Recycling, which is viewed as the right thing to do, is only effective if the materials are actually recyclable. And in order to ensure that residents and businesses aren’t wishcycling and placing only recyclable materials in the recycling bin, the industry needs to improve education and provide clear messaging on what can and cannot be recycled.

The Baltimore Sun has more information:

When Marylanders first started tossing recyclables into the blue bin and setting it out by the curb about a decade ago, only a small percentage of the material ended up in a landfill or incinerator. Now, as much as a third of it gets trashed.

Local governments once made money selling off paper, bottles and cans. But this year many around the Baltimore region have started spending taxpayer money on recycling. That’s because a ton of recyclables fetches just a quarter of the price it commanded seven years ago.

Recycling experts say the trends are the product of good intentions, but poor education — a phenomenon they call “aspirational” recycling, or “wishcycling.”

Read the full story here.

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