Study shows plastic recycling in US a ‘failed concept,’ with pitiful 5% recycling rate

Recycling of plastic is falling way short of expectations, a report from the agenda-driven environmental activist group Greenpeace USA implies.

This scenario suggests that most of the materials tossed by conscientious consumers into recycling bins on or before trash collection day often after just a single use are still winding up in landfills.

This revelation about theory vs. reality that kicks recycling to the curb, as it were, is contained in the 2022 update of the “Circular Claims Fall Flat Again,” published on Monday.

According to the U.S. government, as of 2019, plastic waste in America constituted a staggering 44 million metric tons or nearly 300 pounds for each person.

Plastic water bottles, in particular, seem to be ubiquitous in day-to-day life.

The findings of the Greenpeace study, which you can review in its entirety and draw your own conclusions, include the following:

The U.S. plastic recycling rate was estimated to have declined to about 5–6% in 2021, down from a high of 9.5% in 2014 and 8.7% in 2018, when the U.S. exported millions of tons of plastic waste to China and counted it as recycled even though much of it was burned or dumped…The 2022 update also confirmed a key finding of the 2020 report: acceptance of a plastic item by a MRF does not mean that the item will be recycled….Moreover, the reprocessing capacity for the two widely accepted plastic items remains marginal, at 20.9% for PET#1 and 10.3% for HDPE#2…


PET refers to “polyethylene terephthalate…which is commonly used in water and soda bottles; and the second is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), seen in milk jugs, shampoo bottles and cleaning product containers,” CBS News explained.

Greenpeace USA official Lisa Ramsden told the media that “Industry groups and big corporations have been pushing for recycling as a solution. By doing that, they have shirked all responsibility” for making sure the process works.

In a Greenpeace press release headlined “Plastic Recycling Is A Dead-End Street,” the senior plastics campaigner for the organization insisted, in part, that “More plastic is being produced, and an even smaller percentage of it is being recycled. The crisis just gets worse and worse, and without drastic change will continue to worsen as the industry plans to triple plastic production by 2050.”

“Corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Unilever have worked with industry front groups to promote plastic recycling as the solution to plastic waste for decades. But the data is clear: practically speaking, most plastic is just not recyclable. The real solution is to switch to systems of reuse and refill,” she also contended.

“It is time for corporations to turn off the plastic tap. Instead of continuing to greenwash and mislead the American public, industry should stand on the right side of history this November and support an ambitious Global Plastics Treaty that will finally end the age of plastic by significantly decreasing production and increasing refill and reuse.”

According to Greenpeace, recycling is failing because of the difficulties posed by collection and sorting, the harm to the environment in reprocessing procedures, that plastic is often tainted with toxicity, and recycling often turns out to be too expensive.

Obviously, the plastic waste issue is a serious challenge that needs to be solved through sensible initiatives based on science and engineering rather than politics.

To get a fuller idea of where the organization is coming from, Greenpeace also lamented that fossil fuels make nearly 100 percent of plastic, which it asserts is exacerbating climate change.

Greenpeace also boasts that it has a commitment to “environmental justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Outspoken Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore has criticized the organization for allegedly allowing itself to be “hijacked” by left-wing political activists.

Insofar as the paltry recycling rate is concerned, noted that “That really makes a lot of the emphasis we see on the vital nature of recycling appear to be little more than virtue signaling and showmanship…The problem is that plastic is just so incredibly useful, strong, and cheap. ”

Watch a report on the Greenpeace report aired by CBS 4 Miami:

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