Everybody’s Been Lying To Us About Recycling Plastic

The problem is expected to get exponentially worse in the near future. Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

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There’s one material that has both revolutionized commerce and demolished the environment since the mid-20th century. Plastics are now found in just about every product we encounter on a daily basis and have made their way into many of the foods we eat. While the long-term effects of exposure to this non-biodegradable stuff remain to be seen, plastic producers and proponents have attempted to reassure us that it’ll all be OK if we just recycle old containers.

The facts don’t match the rhetoric

While it might be easy to point a finger at the voices who have told the public that recycling plastic would be a game-changer, many of these folks were apparently just as misled as the rest of us.

Take Laura Leebrick, for example. She works for an Oregon disposal and recycling facility and confirmed that most of the plastic trash had been going to China — but that arrangement fell flat a couple of years ago when the country shut off all incoming trash. Upon searching for a domestic source for the excess plastic, Leebrick said facilities were only interested in white milk containers.

Lamenting that she had been “unwittingly” lying to people about everything, she expressed a desire to set the record straight. Unfortunately, no one seemed interested in listening to her.

She told a city council that it cost more to recycle plastic than to dump it and “it was like heresy had been spoken in the room” as everyone implied that she was either lying or misinformed.

Here’s the deal

If you want to know the true impact of plastic waste, check out these staggering stats:

  • Nearly 9 million metric tons are dumped in oceans each year
  • Production is expected to triple by 2050
  • In the U.S., only about 5% was recycled last year
Chris Agee
Chris Agee October 25th, 2022
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