Greenpeace report says recycled plastic is a failed concept
The latest report from climate activism organization Greenpeace is quite damning, but it also may echo reservations the public sees on a daily basis when they observe plastic containers mixed in with everyday trash.
In a 2022 final update to its report entitled Circular Claims Fall Flat Again, Greenpeace dubs plastic recycling "a failed concept" despite its apparent effectiveness. Labels that appear to indicate heavily monitored separation of plastics from other garbage are often not followed, the report contends, and much of this material ultimately ends up in landfills. The full report is viewable in PDF format at the link above.
The initial 2020 survey examined plastic products accepted by the U.S.’s approximately 370 material recovery facilities (MRFs), and U.S. domestic plastic waste reprocessing capacity. The survey results revealed that only some types of PET#1 and HDPE#2 plastic bottles and jugs could be legitimately claimed as recyclable and led to the conclusion that most types of plastic packaging were economically impossible to recycle at the time and would remain so in the future.
For those Americans relying on waste management companies and MRA guidelines when dispensing of their trash, this news is about as somber as a Radiohead song.
This 2022 update of the survey shows little change: only PET#1 and HDPE#2 plastic bottles and jugs are widely accepted by the 375 MRFs in operation in the U.S. today. This finding is consistent with the 2021 California Statewide Recycling Commission’s determination that only PET#1 and HDPE#2 bottles and jugs are recyclable in California.