Kickstart: Recycling is complicated

I was finishing up a snack the other day and when I went to put the packaging into the bag of film items to drop off at a store, I noticed something new. The pouch had a "How2Recycle" symbol on it, but the recycling arrows had a slash across them. This pouch was not recyclable by curbside or store drop-off systems.

It was the first time I'd run across this on a pouch, although I've seen the How2Recycle symbol on other items that are simple to recycle, such as boxes and bottles. I've dropped that same brand's pouch into a store drop-off system previously, so now I'm wondering: Was I committing an act of "wishcycling" each time I dropped off a bag of bags?

I've been following the plastics industry and plastics recycling for quite a long while, and I think I'm pretty savvy about what can and cannot be recycled. But if I've messed up the system, how often have people who have less exposure to recycling rules made the same mistakes?

I suppose it's another example of the complicated process of plastics recycling. While some things are easy to understand, like PET bottles, others have a more complex process.

It is, of course, the same with plastics recycling policies. It's why individual states are struggling to adopt the best policies for chemical recycling. State lawmakers must decide whether to follow guidance from industry that chemical recycling should be treated as manufacturing or if they should follow the skeptics who say chemical recycling requires special rules. Steve Toloken has a great story looking at the complicated decisions faced by states trying to set policy now.

As for me, I'll be paying closer attention to my flexible packaging in the future, increasing my efforts to recycle, rather than wishcycle.


» Publication Date: 21/04/2022

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