You know the old saying, "Never let a crisis go to waste?" How about the less-commonly used, "Never let a crisis go to a recycling facility ... and then eventually go to waste?"
That's exactly what a group of plastics companies and recycling lobbyists are doing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This gang of grifters (including Berry Global Group, LyondellBasell Industries, the Plastic Industry Association, and the Association of Plastic Recyclers) are demanding $1 billion from Congress in recycling program funding.
Their reason being that the collection of recyclables has been cut back due to the current crisis. In reality, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been the sole opponent of the recycling industry. Over the past few years, municipalities around the nation have been trimming down on their recycling programs because of its ineffectiveness and inability to be self-sustaining.
For years, taxpayers have been forced to pump billions into the recycling industry, with almost nothing to show for it. A representative for the Recycling Partnership has recently defended the money grab by saying that "corporate commitments around using more recycled content are coming due in 2025."
Any reasonable person can look back at similar claims made five years ago... 10 years ago... 15 years ago and see that it's all the same empty promises they've been pushing out with no real results.
Today, recycling is one of the biggest contributors to the plastic pollution on our planet and in our oceans due to the large volumes of garbage it sends overseas. Advocates for this shady industry are now asking for more money without any requirements or oversight to demonstrate how the funds would be spent to actually improve the process. The only claim they make is that it would create government-subsidized jobs, instead of pointing out any real environmental or economical benefits the increase in funding would provide.
The "goals" that the recycling lobbyists and plastic groups have been striving towards are nothing but a means to attach themselves to the tax-teet. This has transformed the (once altruistic) idea of recycling programs into a big, cheeky dance number used to hide the fact that everything is going to a landfill anyway.
Ninety percent of all items sent to a recycling facility end up in a landfill. Every dime that it took to collect and separate that trash is wasted, along with all the carbon emissions and toxins released into the environment from the trucks and facilities. The 10 percent of material rendered truly recyclable is then made into new material. Keep in mind, this new material made from recyclables is more expensive and has a lesser quality than virgin materials... This sounds like a far cry from a "much-needed manufacturing feedstock."
Wipe those tears, this is good news. Despite the complete farce the recycling industry has turned into, landfills on the other hand have only been improving over the last 20 years. Modern-day landfills have transformed into environmentally safe waste management facilities that have the ability to convert garbage into gas. This gas is then harnessed to create renewable energy. All our garbage is inevitably ending up in a landfill anyway (and certainly not just in this time of the pandemic), and we have the ability to turn it all into something actually worthwhile. Whereas the whole point of large-scale, government-funded recycling programs is to collect material in order to turn a profit on it in its secondary life. If that were the actual case, we would not have to continuously pump billions of dollars of funding into it because there would be some sort of profit or valuable product that came from it. If it has to be subsidized, it isn't sustainable.
is a sailboat captain in the Virgin Islands who advocates for clean energy and clean oceans.