A System in Trouble
The U.S. recycles roughly 34% of all the waste we throw out. Other countries are recycling twice this amount or more, but we've been stuck at this level for two decades. Individual consumers are a key part in making the recycling system work, because we provide a supply of materials and also a demand for new recycled products. But, many of us don’t know what happens after those items leave our homes. We're confused by inconsistent rules and labeling of what we can and can't recycle.
Our confusion has huge consequences and is a reason why recycling is stuck.
When we put incorrect items in the bin, we risk contaminating other items that are actually recyclable, decreasing the value of those recyclables. So, we end up with a lot of contaminated stuff U.S. companies and foreign buyers don't want. That stuff is often wasted and sent straight to the landfill.
This new book provides answers to clear up confusion.
Recycling has measurable environmental and economic benefits. It means saving resources and reducing emissions that cause climate change. A thriving system manages our materials in a sustainable loop. It's much more than just a feel-good manner to dispose of our used items. Our recycling system is in trouble, but if we tackle its problems, it can stabilize and thrive.