The Truth About Plastic Recycling

The truth is we don’t have a lot of time (to save the earth) and it can get out of hand but right now, it’s not too late.

Here are some staggering statistics about plastics:

It has been estimated that only 9% of plastics produced since 1950 have been recycled. This means that 91% of all plastics produced in the last 72 years are here on earth, in landfills, in trash sites, in waterways (gutters and on the road in some parts of the world), and in the soil!

50% of plastics are meant to be single-use. This means that of the trillions of plastics produced in the last 72 years, we’ve likely trashed half of them after a single-use. Spoons, straws, food packs, bottled water containers, etc.

The entire lifecycle of plastic (which hardly ever ends) is harmful to the environment. In fact, most of its emission impacts are generated during the manufacturing process, at the very beginning of their life cycle. Through the lifecycle of 1kg of plastic, 6kg of carbon dioxide is emitted and plastics are not easily recycled. It costs more to recycle than to use new plastic, so when you see a plastic-only trash can with the recycle icon, they are probably lying!

What can we do to help?

1. Don’t use plastics unless you absolutely (under extreme conditions) have to. They take up to a million years to decompose!

2. Re-use the plastics you have (until you can recycle).

3. Recycle. If there’s a recycling plant around you, take the plastics there yourself!

4. Lend your voice, join a community, lead a campaign. Getting the government to impose a ban on plastics is probably the most impactful thing we can do. Thanks to countries like France and Zimbabwe for taking the lead!

5. If you work with a company that packages with plastics, do something about it!

This article was inspired by a conversation I had on the Carbon Daily Podcast with Leekei, who’s leading admirable change at an unprecedented rate personally and in The Carbon Almanac Community. See what we’re doing and join us if you can.

It starts by caring.

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Olabanji Stephen

Olabanji Stephen

I see the world differently and attempt to interpret it in ways that inspire genius