U.S. Products Labeled Recyclable Really Aren’t, Greenpeace Report Says
Just because that plastic item you rinsed out and placed in your blue bin says it is recyclable doesn't mean it actually is.
"Retailers and consumer goods companies across the country are frequently putting labels on their products that mislead the public and harm America's recycling systems," Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar said in a press release. "Instead of getting serious about moving away from single-use plastic, corporations are hiding behind the pretense that their throwaway packaging is recyclable. We know now that this is untrue. The jig is up."
Greenpeace surveyed the U.S.'s 367 MRFs and found that they can only really process two types of plastic:
- PET #1
- HDPE #2 bottles and jugs
These two plastic types are reliably recyclable because there is high demand for them and because U.S. facilities have the capacity to process them. But plastics labeled #3 to #7 cannot reliably be called recyclable, the report found.
Only 14 percent of the facilities surveyed accepted plastic clamshells, only 11 percent accepted plastic cups, only four percent accepted plastic bags and only one percent accepted straws, cutlery and stirrers, The Hill reported. In addition, plastic shrink wrap added to #1 and #2 plastics can render them unrecyclable, Greenpeace said.
"[O]ur findings show that many items commonly found in beach cleanups – cups, bags, trays, plates and cutlery – are not recyclable. In America's municipal recycling system, they are contaminants," Jan Dell, the founder of the Last Beach Cleanup and the leader of Greenpeace's survey team, told The Guardian.
Yet despite this, Greenpeace found that several popular brands including Target, Nestlé, Danone, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Clorox, Aldi, SC Johnson and Unilever had sold products with misleading labels. Greenpeace has asked the companies to correct their labelling. If they do not, the organization will file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Greenpeace's results are in keeping with a Guardian report from last year that found that many U.S. plastics were being sent straight to landfills after China stopped accepting recycling exports in 2018.
"This survey confirms what many news reports have indicated since China restricted plastic waste imports two years ago — that recycling facilities across the country are not able to sort, sell, and reprocess much of the plastic that companies produce," Dell said in the press release.
But the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which represents companies that are working to improve their products, told The Guardian this might be changing.
"I think our industry is rebuilding and adding capacity and that's a good thing," coalition director Nina Goodrich told The Guardian. "We should be processing our material at home."
Others argued the solution was to shift who pays for plastic recycling. This was the position of Kate Bailey, a manager at Boulder, Colorado's Eco-Cycle Solutions who explained her argument to The Guardian:
"The silver lining is that we're starting to have some conversations about who should be paying for recycling," she said. "Turning to cities and residents to pay for recycling is not the way it should be going."
"We [the recyclers] are the scapegoats, but we don't control how products are made," she said. "If manufacturers are going to make these products, they should be buying them back. They can be the ones closing the loop."
Bailey's idea is beginning to gain traction. Just last week, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal introduced the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, which would require plastic producers to design and fund their own recycling programs.
- 3 Reasons Why Plastic Pollution Is an Environmental Justice Issue ... ›
- U.S. Recyclers in 'Mounting Crisis' After China's Plastic Waste Ban ... ›
- Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act ›
- Coca-Cola Says It Won't Break Free From Plastic Bottles - EcoWatch ›
- How Australia Plans to Recycle its Way to Recovery After COVID-19 ›
- What Happens to Recycled Plastic? Researchers Lift the Lid ›
In a dramatic rescue captured on camera, a Florida man ran into a pond and pried open an alligator's mouth in order to rescue his beloved puppy, all without dropping his cigar.
- 'He had green eyes': Florida man will paint alligator that attacked him ›
- Florida alligator attack: A woman was attacked by a 10-foot alligator ... ›
- Weird presidential pets include alligator, tiger cub, dog named Satan ... ›
- Alligators make terrible pets: 'You're basically dealing with a dinosaur.' ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
- Coronavirus Plastic Waste Polluting the Environment - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›
By Bret Wilkins
In a year in which the United States has already suffered 16 climate-driven extreme weather events causing more than $1 billion in economic damages, and as millions of American workers face loss of essential unemployment benefits due to congressional inaction, a report published Monday reveals the Trump administration has given fossil fuel companies as much as $15.2 billion in direct relief — and tens of billions more indirectly — through federal COVID-19 recovery programs since March.
- 'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups ... ›
- Corporate Polluters Have Received Tens of Millions in PPP Loans ... ›
- Trump Bails Out Oil Industry, Not U.S. Families, as Coronavirus ... ›
- Former Federal Reserve Governor Rebukes Fed for Fossil Fuel Bail ... ›
By Ashia Aubourg
As Thanksgiving approaches, some Indigenous organizations and activists caution against perpetuating further injustices towards Native communities. Indigenous activist Mariah Gladstone, for example, encourages eaters to celebrate the harvest time in ways that do not involve stereotypes and pilgrim stories.
- Why Face Masks Belong at Your Thanksgiving Gathering + 7 Things ... ›
- Reasons to Be Thankful — 8 Food and Farm 'Good News' Stories ... ›
- Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving - EcoWatch ›
By Alex Middleton
Losing weight and reducing fat is a hard battle to fight. Thankfully, there are fat burner supplements that help you gain your target body and goal. However, how would you know which supplement is right for you?