Many of us do our best to recycle. It’s a concept that has permeated our lives and existed for many generations. Recycling facilities were created to reuse certain types of waste that humans create. However, recycling is not as effective as you think it would be.
In the United States, only about 9% of items you recycle actually end up properly recycled at the right facility. The main issue is that many people don’t understand the types of materials that can be recycled. According to the EPA, of the 267.8 million tons of municipal solid waste generated by Americans in 2017, only 94.2 million tons were recycled or composted. That’s a big problem no matter which way you look at it.
Within the United States, there is no recycling program at the federal level. This leads to each state having different standards when it comes to recycling. Communities are the ones making the choices about recycling in their cities, and not every community is sustainably minded.
When it comes to recycling there are a lot of errors that can occur during the process. Contamination can lead to large batches of recyclable materials to be thrown away. Many items that are simply not recyclable end up in these facilities, contaminating large amounts of material.
So, what can you do about it at home? Know the items that you are recycling and keep a list of non-recyclable items. Empty, clean, and dry bottles with liquids or food. Taking the extra time to do this prevents contamination. Finally, try to find a second use for recyclable items such as glass jars or tin cans. They can be used as makeup brush holders, pen holders, and more if you put your mind to it. Just because recycling may not be as effective as it should be, doesn’t mean you should stop trying to make a difference at home. Your actions matter.