Greenpeace’s recent report reveals a disheartening truth about plastic waste in the U.S. A staggering majority of plastic generated by American households isn’t finding its way to recycling facilities. Out of the 51 million tons of plastic produced last year, only a meager 2.4 million tons were recycled. The daunting challenge isn’t associated with the recycling process itself but rather with the complexities of plastics.
Plastics pose significant hurdles in terms of collection and sorting due to the multitude of plastic types in circulation. Even a single plastic bottle can contain various plastic materials. Unfortunately, plastics that are sent for recycling often end up sitting in facilities across the country, either not being recycled, incinerated, or deposited in landfills.
This revelation might be infuriating to conscientious individuals who diligently contribute to recycling efforts. The problem, however, lies with the inherent difficulties of recycling plastics. The sheer volume of plastic waste, coupled with the diversity of plastic types, makes efficient recycling a daunting task. Environmental hazards, such as the creation of microplastics, further complicate the recycling process and pose risks to workers in recycling facilities.