The move towards a greener world is nothing new. In the past few years, there’s been a huge push towards adopting sustainable practices and reducing waste. The most popular method of 'going green' is usually thought to be recycling.
While recycling has been around for a long time, very few people actually know how recycling works. Most of us recycle our waste and consider ourselves to be playing a role in creating a more sustainable world. But as of late, more and more people are questioning whether recycling actually works.
Is this true? Are our efforts going to waste? Keep reading to see if everything we put in the recycling bin is really recycled.
The Recycling Process
Recycling is essentially a business, even though many people don't think of it that way. Every municipality has people in charge of all recyclables in the area. This could either be a state worker or a contractor. This person then has to deliver the recyclables to a material recovery facility (MRF).
At the MRF, the waste is separated by type and package to be sold to a recycling facility. The municipality keeps all proceedings from these sales. In theory, this should work well. But, recently, it's been challenging to find people to buy packages of waste from MRFs.
Why Is Recycling In Trouble?
Historically, most of the world sold their recycled products to China. Recycling was thus a lucrative market, and MRFs had multiple buyers willing to purchase material that could be made into recycled products. However, in 2017, China introduced restrictions on what recyclables could be imported into the country. These new restrictions stated that any recycled material coming into the country must have very minimal contamination, meaning packages of materials could not have food residue in them or hints of any other materials. This restriction now means that MRFs have to work harder to process material, and even if they do, buyers are unwilling to purchase packages of waste due to these new Chinese restrictions. So, what’s happening to all this unbought waste? Most of it is going into landfills, which is furthering the environmental problem, not fixing it.
So, What’s The Solution?
One reason why recycling is in trouble is not the Chinese ban, but the fact that we produce more waste than we can manage. Even if the Chinese ban were not in place, our supply of waste material is higher than the demand for it. Hence, the only sustainable solution is to reduce the amount of waste we produce.
Reducing what we throw in the waste can ease the pressure off of MRFs and reduce the number of waste products that end up in landfills. Reducing waste may seem difficult, but a few lifestyle changes can go a long way – more than you may think.
You can use products without plastic packaging, such as shampoos, and reusable items, such as cotton bags, to reduce waste!