This NPR article about the oil industry’s cynical manipulation of us when it comes to recycling plastic blew my mind 🤯
Here’s the basic problem: All used plastic can be turned into new things, but picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic also degrades each time it is reused, meaning it can’t be reused more than once or twice.
On the other hand, new plastic is cheap. It’s made from oil and gas, and it’s almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh.Laura Sullivan, How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled (NPR)
Now that China isn’t accepting the world’s plastic for ‘recycling’ (i.e. landfill) domestic initiatives have a problem.
The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech.
Yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn’t true.
“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry’s most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., told NPR.Laura Sullivan, How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled (NPR)
The world really is monumentally screwed every which way at the moment. And I feel like an absolute chump for being in any way enthusiastic about at-home recycling.