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Recycling Plastic in NYC: It's Not Enough!
Beth Terry
409 Posts
April 24, 2010 - 3:10 am

I just listened to a story on the Leonard Lopate show on WNYC all about plastic recycling:…..nts/153888

It doesn’t go far enough! Recycling is not the answer. Cutting consumption is. Here is the comment I left on the site:

Recycling is not the answer to the plastic problem. Consumers want to be able to continue to buy plastic and have the city take care of the mess afterward. But making the effort to use less plastic in the first place is the only way to stem the tide of plastic pollution.

I’m surprised that Eric Goldstein didn’t speak more about the fact that so much of our plastic recycling is sold and shipped to countries like China, where entire towns have become toxic waste dumps of U.S. plastic trash.

The plastics industry promotes the idea that community recycling programs are the answer to the plastic problem. But why should cities be forced to pay the cost of the waste that is created by plastics manufacturers in the first place? If companies were required to practice Extended Producer Responsibility and take back their plastic waste for recycling, you can bet they’d produce a lot less of it in the first place.

Juli in Woodside (the second commenter up above) mentioned my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, which is all about finding ways to live with less plastic. But I want to say that her blog, PlasticLess NYC, is even more useful to NY residents. She and I have both cut our plastic consumption considerably and want to help others realize that they can too.

What’s more, you don’t have to eat food out of plastic containers. Eric Goldstein mentioned the chemical additives in plastic. What he didn’t say is that all of those chemicals can leach out into our food and beverages. And in addition to those he mentioned, another type of plastic additive is antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan, an ingredient in antibacterial soaps and other products. Do you really want that kind of stuff leaching into your food?

Many people don’t realize that the 3 R’s, Reduce Reuse Recycle, are written in order of importance. Before even considering recycling, we should reduce our plastic consumption as much as possible and then reuse whatever we can. Recycling should be a very last resort.

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