I was recently in a restaurant with my family and we were talking about ways that cups could be redesigned to do away with the need for plastic straws and non-recyclable lids. Plastic waste in our world, particularly our oceans, is at an unbelievable level. That's why it was unfortunate to hear that California's largest recycling company went out of business last week, closing 284 centers and putting 750 people on unemployment lines. It has left many California residents wondering where to take items for recycling. In fact, prior to this recent closure of California's largest recycling company, the Associated Press had reported that more than 20 percent of the recycling centers in California have closed in the past year.
Experts say such shutdowns are reflective of broader struggles in the recycling industry. It has been reported that China has drastically reduced its imports of plastic and other scraps from the United States and other countries. When China began such strict reductions -- for environmental and political reasons -- it sent recycling markets into a turmoil that they haven't been able to recover from.
California isn't the only state to see recycling centers close. It has also recently occurred in Missouri, Iowa, Texas and Virginia. Perhaps what many people don't know is that 25 percent of all recycling picked up by Waste Management is contaminated to the point that it is ultimately sent to landfills. According to research from Duke University, 80 percent of what Americans throw away is recyclable, but just 33 percent of it makes it to recycling centers. Recycling is important. If all recycling centers were to be closed, all of that waste would go into the trash. Multiply it by 7 billion people on earth and that's about 31 billion pounds of waste in landfills every single day. The impact of not recycling for one day would be incredibly noticeable on the planet as a whole, because our natural resources are finite.
Many believe that recycling is not necessarily the answer to our ever-increasing plastic-polluted world, but rather eliminating the USE of plastic that typically ends up choking our waterways and beaches, and littering our neighborhoods and roadways. Many are boycotting the use of plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic bottles and more. In fact, the impact is being felt. In Alabama, one of the world's largest plastic packaging companies recently announced that it's closing one of its two Alabama plants. The company is blaming the closure on declining sales of plastic food bags.
Plastic objects and particles that end up in the earth's environment adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans. What are you doing to make a change in your life, in your home, in your community, in your world?
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