Below are a few links to recent articles and a video that should raise eyebrows about the global problems of plastic generation and waste disposal and recycling. The first two articles point out that plastics production is set to explode in the United States over the next few years, thanks to cheap natural gas, which serves as a feedstock for plastics production. Some $180 billion in new plastics production capacity is in the pipeline.
The third and fourth links point to a different, but related–and broader–problem. As of this year, China is no longer accepting a number of categories of foreign waste outright–including some plastic waste–and is not accepting certain wastes, such as paper, if they have too much contamination. The contamination strictures appear to be pretty tight, and U.S. recyclers are starting to feel the pinch.
All of this points to the need for citizens to act on several fronts–recycle properly, buy smarter in terms of packaging, and generally reduce consumption, in addition to supporting sensible government policies on waste management, such as Melrose’s recent limits on single-use plastic bag use.
Incidentally, the Facebook video has a slide saying that recycling is now more expensive than landfilling. I wonder if that conclusion takes into account the cost of cleaning up the landfill (NOte: More than 200 former municipal solid waste landfills have been listed as Superfund sites).