“Trash, packaging, and improperly disposed waste from sources on land accounts for 80% of the marine debris found on beaches during cleanups and surveys. Furthermore, one-third to two-thirds of the debris we catalog on beaches comes from single-use, disposable plastic packaging from food and beverage-related goods and services (things like plastic cups, bottles, straws, utensils, and stirrers). ” (Source: EPA)
Six times more plastic waste is burned in the U.S. than is recycled. Read more here.
Scientific American: According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, only 15% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, and, of that, 40% is discarded from the recycling process on account of its low quality. As a result, actual plastic recycling rates are as low as 9%.
Moreover, most plastic sent for recycling, especially that collected from households, is downcycled—that is, the recycled product is of a lower quality than the original—on account of its heterogeneous nature. Read more here.
We need policy change. Concerned citizens like YOU can help make this happen!
- Think global, act local. Pass local ordinances to reduce single-use plastics, including expanded polystyrene foam containers and cups
- Pass local resolutions supporting removal of state preemptions (support home rule for plastics legislation)
- Pass a state bill to repeal the preemptions that prevent local communities from taking meaningful action.
- Pass federal policy to reduce single-use plastic production (Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act)
- Ask corporations for plastic free choices
- Create plastic free zones (plastic free workplaces, plastic free schools/universities)
- Reduce all waste by reducing disposables, increasing reuse/refill.
The Focus Should Be Upstream, Not Downstream
“If your bathtub was overflowing, you wouldn’t immediately reach for a mop — you’d first turn off the tap. That’s what we need to do with single-use plastics.”
Not all plastic is properly collected. Some plastic ends up littered in our environment. All of the plastic in your recycling bin doesn’t end up getting recycled. For example, only 6% of the plastic bottles that were properly collected in our state were actually recycled. Source: FL DEP
Most plastic that is properly collected goes to landfills, and landfill space is going fast. We need to reduce all disposables, and move towards zero waste.
Even desirable number 1 and 2 plastic that is sorted out of curbside streams are difficult to recycle. They are contaminated with food and grime.
We need to look towards a circular economy model.