Two recent news articles about plastic recycling have me shaking my head. It’s shameful that for a so-called “developed” country like Canada, we cannot properly handle the waste we create—and we create waste at a mind-boggling rate. Repeat after me: recycling is NOT the answer! These are the two news reports that have me tearing my hair out at the moment:
A CBC Marketplace investigation decided to ask three Canadian companies to recycle plastic–and they secretly tracked it. The plastic was mostly made up of shopping bags. This was done in BC, my home province, which is known for having one of the best recycling systems in Canada. Well guess what? Only ONE company actually recycled it. What happened to the rest? One company sent the plastic to incinerators. The other trackers were found in junkyards and landfills. Why does this happen? Recycling is a business, and businesses require markets. There’s simply no market to buy our mass quantities of plastic waste. Remember, only 9% of plastic is recycled.
Huge quantities of small plastic pellets (called “nurdles”) have been found in our local waterways—the Fraser River and Salish Sea. These pellets are used in the production of plastics, and are clearly coming from a plastic-related company. Plastic pellets are also created by the recycling plastics industry, as hard plastics are broken down into these small pieces and sold back to the plastic industry. However, the precise source of these pieces hasn’t been determined yet.
Are you mad? Good! Channel your anger and turn your individual action into collective action! In terms of individual action, we do our best to refuse, reduce, and reuse as much as we can. Recycling should be a last resort. DIY, refills, bulk, unpackaged produce—this all helps. But it’s more important than ever that we also demand change! Contact companies and contact governments. Support environmental groups. Help fight for clean drinking water for our Indigenous communities. Volunteer. Donate. Spread the word.
Info on the “9%” stat
This was the statistic of the year last year. https://www.statslife.org.uk/news/4026-statistics-of-the-year-2018-winners-announced This statistic is according to the now-famous study published in Science Advances. It’s the first study ever done to measure the amount of plastics created versus what’s actually been recycled. The researchers concluded that humans have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic, with 90.5% ending up as pure waste.