I've recently started learning about how our combined item recycling bins get sent to places like China to be sorted. This makes me wonder how the amount of energy used to transport this waste compares to the benefits of recycling. Should I avoid using the combination bins? Has anyone else read more on this issue?
Remember the good ol' - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? There's a reason for the order of the words. It's always best to first try and reduce our use, from there reuse what we can, the last option is to recycle whatever is then left over. Last I heard, and this has been a couple of years so I don't know if it's the same, generally what is most often recycled in the States is glass, cardboard, paper, and #1 and #2 plastic bottles only. Most of the other plastic does get sent to China, and sometimes just ends up being burned. That means most plastic is not recycled in the States, and may end up being burned - yogurt containers, plastic clamshells of all types, plastic take out containers, etc. You have to wonder if the whole recycling idea hasn't backfired a little - people feel good about recycling because they think they're doing they're part, so they don't think about trying to find alternatives when they think they can just recycle it and they've done a good thing.
Now, as I said, it's been a few years so things may have changed, it would be something to research more on to find out what's happening currently, but I still follow REDUCE, REUSE, then when there is no other option RECYCLE. I think we should still all recycle what each city says we can rather than not recycling at all (and not all cities recycle the same stuff), but I think it's important to do the other stuff first. If nothing else, as people continue to recycle maybe some investors in the States will want to open a recycling plant.
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