Convenience & Connivance

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‘I think we’ve taken convenience and just turned it into a monster,’ said Shaymah Ansari.
Photograph: Francis Gardler/AP

I acknowledge it has not been easy to eliminate plastic from my life. Plastic is everywhere. It is ubiquitous in developing economies as well as in more developed economies. But since recycling is costly, then at least radically reducing its use is important. So consider how seductive convenience is, and how conniving companies can be:

US recycling event is cover for enormous volume of plastic pollution, say critics

America Recycles Day promoted by EPA is brainchild of not-for-profit backed by companies that produce plastic products

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 Packaging for plastic food items that cannot be accepted for recycling. Photograph: Emily Holden/The Guardian

America’s government-backed national recycling awareness day is being used as cover by large corporations that are churning out enormous volumes of plastic that end up strewn across landscapes, rivers and in the ocean, critics have said.

The second annual America Recycles Day event on Friday is being vigorously promoted by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a way to encourage Americans to recycle more.

But critics point out that the initiative is the brainchild of Keep America Beautiful, a not-for-profit founded and backed by large companies that produce vast quantities of plastic products that end up as pollution.

Current backers include Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Pepsico, and Altria, the tobacco giant formerly known as Phillip Morris. Decades of campaigns by the group have emphasized individual responsibility for plastic recycling, which data reveals to be a largely broken system.

“Just like the fossil fuel industry, corporate polluters have been using recycling to justify ever-increasing production of single-use packaging, while taxpayers and cities are left to foot the bill,” said Denise Patel, the US and Canada program director of Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.

“Lower-income communities and communities of color, who are the hardest hit and the least responsible, bear the brunt of a model that has brought us to the brink of the waste and climate crisis.”

A huge global expansion in plastic production is under way, threatening to sweep aside any effort to increase the current recycling rate of about 9% of all plastics. A 2017 analysis found that fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil and Shell have poured more than $180bn into new facilities that form the raw material for everyday plastics from packaging to bottles, trays and cartons.

This boom is set to fuel a 40% rise in plastic production over the next decade, according to experts, exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis that scientists warn already risks “near permanent pollution of the Earth”.

The Trump administration is simultaneously supporting that expansion and promoting a flawed recycling system…

Read the whole story here.

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