Plastic Recycling Is a Sham; We Need a Complete Rethink
By Romero Halloway
Plastics manufacturers have been lying to the American public for decades about the viability of plastics recycling to provide cover for the environmental scourge that rampant plastic use presents.
It’s really that simple.
The oil and gas industry wants the public to be at ease when buying disposable plastic items like soda bottles, water bottles, coffee cups, coffee stirrers, straws and bags, so they fed them a fairy tale about how those items could be used, melted down and used again.
In reality, less than 10 percent of the disposable plastics have been recycled since the technology was first introduced in the 1970s. In fact, since 2000, approximately 20 million tons of plastics have ended up in landfills across America every year.
The scale is unimaginable.
Now, NPR reporter Laura Sullivan has uncovered internal documents from oil and gas industry executives that show plastics manufacturers have known for decades that plastic recycling technology was insufficient to reduce the environmental toll but continued to promote the practice as a way to boost profits.
The fossil fuels and plastics industries have raked in serious cash over the past 50 years in selling the American public a version of plastic use that doesn’t comport with the facts on the ground.
In fact, plastics degrade with every recycling turnover, meaning you can only get one cycle out of most plastics. Furthermore, the recycling of plastic is more costly than just building new products with fresh resin, so there is little economic incentive to reuse the material in the way presented in advertising and popular media.
"There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis," one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech, according to NPR.
Instead, plastic trash continues to pile up in landfills across the country and around the world. Plastic pollution in the ocean continues to mount and there are vast tons of plastic rubbish accumulating on some of the most magnificent stretches of beaches in the world.
Here at Littorary, we are using our expertise as material scientists and product designers to fashion an alternative to plastic use. We are committed to making durable and stylish products that rival the convenience of plastics without the environmental burden. We believe technology and design innovations can revolutionize how Americans and the world consume products in a more environmentally responsible manner.
So while the plastics industry is laser-focused on filling landfills alongside their pockets, please stay tuned to our website, blog, and Kickstarter page as we unveil a product fully capable of providing the convenience and sustainability that will consign the concept of disposable plastics (and the myth of recycled plastics) to the garbage heap.