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Plastic Recycling: Problems And Promise

Plastic Recycling: Problems And Promise


The biggest problem with plastic recycling is plastics. There a dozens of plastic types used in consumer goods but not all of them are easily recycled.

In addition, the sheer volume of plastic waste threatens to overwhelm our existing capacity for processing and recycling it all. Which means much of it is exported elsewhere or ends up in our landfills.

How bad is it?

Well, consider that the U.S. had previously exported the majority of it's excess plastic (and other) waste to foreign nations, primarily China. However, beginning in 2018, China drastically slashed the amount of waste imports it would accept.

And, once again in January 2021, a further reduction of the amount of waste products it will take was enacted.

All of this has left the United States in a bit of a plastic pickle, you might say. 




Plastic This and Plastic That Adds Up to Too Much Plastic!

We are not prepared nor equipped to properly process and recycle the massive amounts of waste plastics we generate, never mind all the glass, metals, and paper products, too.

Many cities and towns are running out of affordable and cost-effective municipal recycling options. As the costs are rising to dispose of it, many municipalities are considering charging people more money for recycling.

In fact, it is looking as if we may get to a point where some towns will no longer have a recycling center.

Why is that? According to a recent article in Forbes,

“We don’t have the waste infrastructure in the U.S. to do recycling because we send mostly all of it to China and there is no secondary end market for recycled goods,” says Julianna Keeling, founder and CEO of Terravive in Richmond, Va. The five-year-old company makes biodegradable materials from plant-based sources and other organic compounds that break down easier in water, landfills, or your backyard leaf pile.

“Only a small percentage of the recycled goods end up as another recycled good anyway. Most of what is happening to it is that it just goes into foreign landfills,” she says. On China’s action, Keeling calls it a “big deal” because it takes out the entire cost equation from recycling. It’s no longer cheap now that less of it can just be disappeared in China.

However, there are some places where alternatives are being pursued in light of the fact that the plastics are not disappearing any time soon.

For example, one report notes that,

Today certain types of plastics, including those used in water bottles and milk jugs, are easily recycled. Other ubiquitous plastic items, such as detergent bottles, shopping bags, and egg cartons, pose a bigger sustainability challenge because they cannot be recycled in the same way.

To address this problem, Pennsylvania recently enacted legislation to promote advanced recycling of hard-to-recycle plastics. This action, intended to reduce regulatory burdens on advanced plastics recycling facilities, may help divert these plastics from landfills and oceans while creating jobs at new recycling plants in the Commonwealth.

And, despite all the dire warnings about a global plastic waste crisis, there are hopeful signs that things may, in fact, be changing for the better.

Another report from Yahoo! Finance reveals that in  2020, the global plastic recycling business was heavily impacted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Collecting and recycling recyclable waste has been widely suspended, widely and recycled waste volume slumped in the first half of 2020. However, China and some other countries have quickly recovered from the pandemic. In 2019, the global plastic recycling industry rebounded back to nearly the level of 2017, before China started to significantly ban its post-consumer plastics import in Jan 2018.

Their report goes on to point out that three factors contributed to the quick recovery of the global plastic recycling market:

  • Europe significantly improved its capacity to recycle locally-collected plastic waste, increasing processed volume by more than four billion pounds per year from 2017-2019.
  • China has a huge appetite for recycled plastics. Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and many other countries set up facilities to produce recycled pellets and sell to the Chinese market.
  • Most other countries also increased domestic recycling capacity.



The Problems and Promise of Plastic

Plastic has been a boon to the economics of consumer goods production, packaging, and for a wide variety of industrial, food, and medical uses. As a whole, plastics became a "Wonder" material that revolutionized manufacturing and consumerism.

But there is a downside.

For example, the estimated lifespans of these popular plastic products:

  • Plastic Water Bottle - 450 years
  • Disposable Diapers - 500 years
  • Plastic 6-Pack Collar - 450 Years
  • Extruded Polystyrene Foam - over 5,000 years

In a nutshell, this simply means that when a plastic product is created, short of incinerating it or, preferably, recycling it, the next best thing we can do it simply bury it for a few centuries.

However, the reality is that much of it never ends up in any of these places and can be found all over the landscape and - even worse - in the oceans.

According to Sea Stewards,

An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash-most of it plastic -is dumped in the world's oceans every year. Work from the Algalita Foundation indicates there is six times more plastic than phytoplankton per weight and fifty times more plastic than zooplankton.

At Junk King, we share the concern for our environment and have worked tirelessly since 2005 to reduce the amount of junk - and plastic waste - that ends up in our landfills. And we continue to work hard at it while providing nationally recognized superior junk removal service.




Your Junk Disposal and Recycling Made Easy

There is a truly simple and efficient option and that's calling Junk King.

Junk King provides professional junk hauling services to remove any and all of your junk. And this includes anything made with plastic and even your excess trash and garbage. We even have the equipment and man power to remove a large fridge and other appliances up a small stairway or down your basement steps out through the garage. 

Whatever your junk consists of, Junk King can help you get it out of the way. We provide an eco-friendly junk removal service to help you get rid of any unwanted junk, large trash items, or any old appliances.

Our professional and insured appliance disposal team will show up at your home or office; we call 15 minutes before we arrive on site and we’ll give you a free estimate based on how much room your junk takes up in our truck. You point and we haul your unwanted items into our junk removal trucks, with no hidden fees.

It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3.

You make an appointment by booking online above or by calling 1.888.888.JUNK (5865). 



Plastic Recycling: Problems And Promise


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