Skip to comments.Study: Recycling is Actually Bad for the Environment
Posted on 05/25/2023 9:34:14 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Here’s something many of you probably suspected, but now there’s even more scientific data to back it up. A new study from the University of Strathclyde in Scotland has determined that recycling is not only failing to “save the planet” as we’ve long been promised, but it’s arguably producing a net harmful effect on both the environment and human health. In case that still comes as a surprise to you, the primary culprit in all of this is our old friend plastic. The ubiquitous use of various types of plastics in nearly everything humans manufacture or use is producing cumulative negative effects. And recycling really doesn’t work as advertised to begin with. (Free Beacon)
Contrary to what climate activists have claimed for years, plastic recycling is polluting the water and air, a new study has found.
The peer-reviewed study led by Erina Brown, a plastics scientist at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, found that up to 13 percent of recycled plastics become microplastics, tiny particles smaller than five millimeters that pollute air and water, if wash water from recycling plants is not filtered. Brown and her team studied wastewater at a mixed plastics recycling facility in the United Kingdom and found it could produce up to 6.5 million pounds of microplastic per year.
This has been a pet peeve of mine for a while now and there are several layers to this onion. While the government at all levels insists on mandatory recycling programs for both private and business dwellings, it simply doesn’t work for the most part. Shockingly, on average, less than 10% of the plastic material you put in your recycling bin winds up being recycled. It’s really just the larger soda and other beverage bottles that can be reused. The rest goes into landfills and plastic takes a ludicrously long time to decompose.
The plastic that doesn’t go into the landfills largely winds up making its way into the water and eventually the oceans. There are literally massive islands of plastic trash in the oceans, some the size of continents. Look no further than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It stretches from California to Japan. And it’s killing off wildlife in horrific numbers.
And then there is the question addressed in the study I linked to above. The more we learn, the more we find that we’re breaking down plastic waste into tiny “microplastic” particles. They’re everywhere. They get into the water and the food supply and eventually into your body and the bodies of all the animals. The medical dangers of this are well established. Plastic in the body can cause cancer, changes in hormonal activity, reproductive failure, or growth and cognitive impairment.
But what can we do about it at this late stage in the game? I sometimes recount a story of when some friends of ours were playing a party game where everyone had to pick what they would do if they were given a time machine and could travel to any time in the past. Rather than visiting dinosaurs or watching the pyramids being built, I considered saying that I would go back in time and kill the people who invented plastic. But that’s a dumb idea because someone would have simply come along the next month and invented it anyway. It was seemingly inevitable.
But we’re not doing ourselves any favors. Plastic is a disaster, but we still don’t seem to be making any concrete progress in finding something less toxic to replace it. I wish I had some brilliant answers to offer, but I simply don’t see any.
By the way, I did some retirement research a few years ago. I came across a county that had no building codes other than state mandated electric and no trash removal…they have a county dump if you want to use it. I wonder if such freedom truly exists. It was Boundry Country ID, btw.
There is a plant in Groveton, NH that converts plastic to diesel fuel and home heating oil.
Years ago I saw photos from China of them stripping the silver solder and wires from electronics. In the street, contaminated colored water in the ditch, smoky fires (burning insulation off the wires) and piles of waste next to their shacks with little kids both playing and working on dismantling the electronics.
Mine all get dumped in the garbage to be sent to a double-lined landfill 20 miles from my house. I do have to cut them down to size to fit in a black plastic garbage bag sometimes.
The headline doesn’t quite capture the gist of the article - which is about plastic. Not recycling in general.
It seems simple to me.
You burn the paper to create carbon stock for plants. The plastic gets incinerated for asphalt. The metal is sent to be recycled.
That’s how simple it should be, imo.
Burning it (along with other garbage) is a feasible way to “recycle” it. One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the article (or many when it comes to “garbage”) is the amount of food that is not wasted due to the excellent packaging that plastic provides.
I forget the details, but they had estimates of how much food was damaged back in the day before plastics (and shipping containers) and it was astounding. I can only imagine a ship with bananas that had to be loaded into cargo nets, hauled on board, dropped in the hold, transported across the ocean and then the process reversed once it got to the states.
I was wondering how feasible the use of plastics would be in asphalt (guessing it would be as both are hydrocarbon based).
The above firm is doing it, and I imagine many others are as well. Just the little bit I read sounds like the use of plastic is beneficial to the road and the vehicles. I imagine there are downsides. But - at least the plastic is cheap!
I did some work at a firm that was looking at uses for the shells of coco beans. They found that ground up it could be used as a type of flour in baking, and they were experimenting with other stuff for it. I have no idea how big the market for coco flour is, but good for them if they can make money off of somebody else’s waste product.
Sort of like the OSB plywood that is so prevalent today. Although I bet those wood chips aren't considered “waste” anymore.
There are microbes and worms that consume and devour plastic in landfills and elsewhere. There are similar ocean microbes that gobble up the plastic that ends up in the ocean.
Reminds me of the large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. When the drill pipe broke, thousands of gallons of oil was released into the Gulf. What they don’t tell you is that all over the planet, at the bottom of many oceans, oil seeps and is released all the time. It is a natural part of the world. The microbes that eat the oil just love when more food is available. When the bean counters and ‘scientists’ tried to find all the oil that flowed into the Gulf, they came up significantly short. There were plumes on the surface, and underwater, but it did not all add up to what they calculated it should be. Finally, someone pointed out the discovery of large plumes of the oil-eating microbes. As the food source increased, the microbes also went forth and multiplied.
So it is no surprise that there are microbes eating plastic. Most of the plastic we use comes from....yes....oil!
This firm’s examples are all geared to how environmentally friendly their roads are. I guess they are promoting it to clients that want to hear that sort of thing. (One of their examples was a new road to a nature preserve).
I would prefer “And because we use waste materials that people pay us to haul away; we can cut costs, deliver a better road for less money, and make a larger profit!”
Although I would imagine that the cost of breaking the plastic down into a usable form costs more than just buying the raw material.
There are reasonably affordable solutions to recycling, that work. However, the environmental movement wants de-industrialization.
I saw a video of an Asian company that feeds food waste to black fly maggots. From those maggots, important pharmaceutical and cosmetic chemicals get produced enmasse. The leftover waste is turned into fertilizer.
The sainted recycling outfit scam in Hawaii county was exposed after they were caught just dumping the separated stuff into the landfill.
Guess they were collecting money from the county with a wink about saving da erf....
Recycling allows patrons to pay more to have their recycling dumped in the same place as their trash.
Recycling lets people feel like they are climate heroes, better than everyone who doesn’t recycle.
Idiotic headline. Recycling is definitively a good thing.
But since plastic is not yet recyclable/decomposable, it should be separated from the other waste.
Then I’m excelling at helping the planet.
Funny how no one has ever conducted a study on how the floating garbage patch likely provides safe cover for innumerable species, protecting microscopic organisms, larval life, barnacles, and tiny crabs and fishes from predation, and is likely a food factory for larger fishes, etc. There is an upside to every downside.
“Sort of like the OSB plywood that is so prevalent today. Although I bet those wood chips aren’t considered “waste” anymore.”
Very little of OSB and other wood composite products are from waste. The full logs are chipped up into chips and fibers for such products. There would not be enough waste to produce the amount wood composite product we use now. They even put whole logs between rollers to crush into strands to make “lumber”.
Years ago, someone suggested making all plastic bottles in the shape of building blocks, then using them for new construction.
You left out that what WAS detectable in the water was the crap they’d pumped in trying to round up the oil.
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