Not only did Greenpeace’s recent study state that a fraction of plastics were recycled in the U.S. last year calling it a failed concept, now the green meanies have shifted gears and are using the occasion to accuse corporations, like fossil fuel companies, of being behind the recycling myth mantra.
For decades, recycling has been championed by businesses and environmental groups alike as a critical way to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and the oceans.
When it comes to plastics, however, the common belief that items in the recycling bin will end up being repurposed down the line is rarely borne out. Only about 5% of the 51 million tons of plastic waste produced by American households in 2021 was recycled domestically, according to a new study conducted by the environmental nonprofit Greenpeace. The rest is sent to landfills, incinerated or shipped overseas, where its ultimate fate can be hard to track.
Greenpeace’s findings are consistent with a wide range of research that has led many experts to argue that the environmental promise of plastic recycling, which has been promoted by plastic-producing companies for years, is essentially “a myth.”.
Compared to materials like metal, paper and glass, plastics are much more complicated and less economical to recycle. They come in a wide variety of chemical compositions — some that can’t be processed at most recycling facilities and others that can’t be recycled at all. But even when recyclable plastics make their way to places that have the capacity to repurpose them, those items often still end up in landfills. That’s because it’s frequently cheaper for companies to create new plastic than it is to recycle old plastic.
There are multiple reasons why recycling doesn’t work and it is mainly resulting from the practice not being grounded in any economic or scientific reality. California’s Attorney General has warmed up to Greenpeace’s view and during April even went so far as to initiate an investigation of petrochemical companies and their purported capacity in contributing to plastic pollution. Fortunately, Exxon publicly rejected the Golden State Attorney General’s accusations.
Greenpeace’s move is nothing more than a way to reward their lawyers and lobbyists while relevant scientific research to address the problem is sidelined. Environmentalism is about the achievement of power through the politicization of institutions, including and especially science.