Two US associations of environmental activists have published a disturbing report on plastic recycling, with the patronage of the EPA, the government agency for environmental protection. According to the document, in 2021 only 5-6% of the plastic has been recycled in the United States: the figure comes from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, US export statistics and the waste industry.
More than an alarm bell it is a tombstone: this figure even worsens that of the latest survey, also promoted by the EPA. In fact, in 2018, the plastic recycling rate in the United States was 8,7%.
Data monstrously lower than the European ones, which are also worrying: in the old continent, in fact, the recycling rate of plastic it stands at around 30%.
Plastic recycling? Very little. And the rest becomes poison
Beyond Plastics, one of the two associations involved, does not go lightly: “in the US we recycle a negligible amount of plastic, around 6%. The other 94% is disposed of in landfills, burned in incinerators or pollutes our water, often after a few minutes of use ". Furthermore, the recycling of plastic itself is a waste: 30% of the plastic material of PET bottles is lost during the process.
Hence the terrible conclusion of the report, entrusted to the president of the association, Judith Enck:
The plastics industry must stop lying to the public about plastic recycling. It doesn't work, it will never work, and no false advertising will change that.
Another paradigm is needed
Given the fact that plastic recycling may not be enough, and that we are literally dying poisoned from this material, companies and governments need to adopt policies that reduce the production, use and disposal of plastic.
The same report notes that some public bodies have actually started to reduce consumption, by imposing "bans on plastic bags and plastic water bottles", but these policies need to be greatly increased.
Paper, to make a comparison, has a recycling rate of 66% in the USA, and in Europe it has averages over 75%, with a leading country: Italy. The boot recycles 87% of paper, and has achieved European environmental objectives 15 years in advance.
In summary: plastic recycling rates are too low and this has a negative impact on the environment. We need to find a way to better recycle plastic (me cheer for it), or reduce its production.
Without a firm push we will never make it.