Recycling Done Right

T E X A R K A N A M O N T H LY

The U.S. produces about 34.5 million tons of plastic waste each year; that’s enough to fill the Houston

German cosmonaut, Sigmund Jahn famously said, “Only when I saw the Earth from space, in all its ineffable beauty and fragility, did I realize that humankind’s most urgent task is to cherish and preserve it for future generations.” Despite these words of caution in 1978, destruction and pollution of the environment have continued at an alarming rate. The United States produces about 34.5 million tons of plastic waste each year; that’s enough to fill the Houston Astrodome 1,000 times! When a discarded plastic bag or bottle ends up in the ocean, it erodes into tiny plastic particles. These particles form a vortex of debris called the Pacific Garbage Patch, which is now more than twice the size of Texas! The particles are ingested by aquatic animals and birds with devastating effects. Faced with such a huge global problem, it might seem impossible to make a difference, but sometimes the solution to enormous problems begins with one simple step. We can begin by generating less waste and learning to recycle correctly. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tons of U.S. plastic waste are being shipped to other countries for recycling. Anywhere from 20 to 70 percent of the plastic entering recycling facilities around the globe is discarded because of contamination. Most of us are familiar with the recycling symbol of three chasing arrows. Contrary to what most of us believe, not every item stamped with this symbol is recyclable. The plastics industry introduced the symbol in 1970. It was developed, using the numbers one through seven inside the triangle, as a method to show the grade of plastic and to indicate its recyclability. Plastic grades one and two are the most widely recyclable and include plastic bottles, milk jugs, laundry detergent containers and other similar items. Grades three through seven are soft plastics and are much less consistently recyclable in the United States. Most curbside recycling programs collect paper, cardboard and plastics in the same bins and send the collection to sorting and processing facilities. The mixing of materials and different plastic grades makes sorting a challenge to the recycling process. Some items are composites of multiple materials that do more harm than good when put in curbside recycle bins.

Astrodome 1,000 times!

Some things are bigger than Texas…

Like the Pacific Garbage Patch off the coast of California.

2

R E C Y C L I N G D O N E R I G H T

Made with FlippingBook - Online catalogs