If our current approach to rethink recycling and plastic isn’t the best for the economy or the environment, why do we do it?

Plastics in our recycling system has to changeAmy Westervelt
@amywestervelt
Environmental journalist, Climate Confidential

So Go ahead. Criticize or rethink recycling and plastics; you may as well be using a fume-spewing chainsaw to chop down ancient redwoods. That’s as far as most environmentalists are concerned. But recent research into the environmental costs and benefits and some tough-to-ignore market realities have even the most ardent of recycling fans questioning the current system.

No one is saying that using old things to make new things is intrinsically a bad idea. Consequently, consensus is building around the idea that the system used today in the United States on balance benefits nobody. Oh I mean neither the economy nor the environment.

So in general, local governments take responsibility for the idea to rethink recycling. The practice as a result can deliver profits to city and county budgets. Especially when commodity prices are high for recycled goods. In contrast, it turns recycling into an unwanted cost when commodity markets dip. And recycling is not cheap. According to Bucknell University economist Thomas Kinnaman, the energy, labor and machinery necessary to recycle materials is roughly double the amount needed to simply landfill those materials.

Right now, that equation is being further thrown off. Especially by fluctuations in the commodity market. Because the prices for recycled plastic have dropped. All which has some governments selling their plastic recyclables. That’s furthermore for the last several years.

I mean talk about time to rethink recycling policies around plastic. So what about having the customer pay for it to be recycled? It’s a decision being driven not by waste management goals or environmental concerns.

Even more, therefore it’s all on economic reasons.

One that could feasibly change in the next couple of years.

Also, amidst growing concern about the impacts of plastic. That’s as a result on the oceans, ecosystems, and human health. Now there’s also another largely hidden dimension of the plastic crisis. It’s plastic’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions. More importantly to climate change and UN targets!

So a report examines each of these stages of the plastic lifecycle. All identifying the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The sources of uncounted emissions.

Hence uncertainties leading to underestimation of plastic’s climate impacts. I mean the report compares greenhouse gas emissions. All by estimating against global carbon budgets. As well as emissions commitments.

Also it seems to rethink recycling like they are considering current trends and projections. Then also how plastic is impacting our ability to reach agreed emissions targets. It also compiles data. That’s such as downstream emissions and future growth rates.

In conclusion, rethink recycling ones that have not previously been accounted for. You know like those certainly and widely used climate models. This accounting even more paints a grim picture. We consequently have serious plastic proliferation. It’s threatening our planet and the climate at a global scale.

Finally and read the full report: here.

Source: Ensia,  February 8, 2016