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California requires plastics makers to foot the bill for recycling

By Winston Choi-Schagrin Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

The landmark legislation also restricts single-use plastics. Because California’s economy is so big, experts say, the law could have far-reaching effects.

07/01/22
                                                               

Why we need to recycle clean energy technologies — and how to do it

By Jeff St. John

In the past decade, solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries have boomed in production volume and plummeted in price. That’s enabled many countries to accelerate the transition to lower-carbon electricity. It’s also helped electric vehicles become more mainstream, an important step in the push to decarbonize transportation.

06/13/22
                                                               

Even the clothes you donate probably end up in a landfill

By Nell Durfee

Inside a large industrial building in Jamaica, Queens, I sighed, taking a quick break from ripping staples off of fabric. My back was to the windows, but even if I wanted to look outside, I’d have a problem. A mountain of trash bags blocked any view, each stuffed with thousands of tiny fabric scraps from fashion companies around New York City. I had signed up to sort through the material, but after working for three long hours alongside five other volunteers, we had barely made it through five bags. Dozens remained. I was at the headquarters of FabScrap, a textile recycling company that processes material leftover from fashion production. They’re just one of many well-intentioned textile recycling companies that have bumped up against a painful reality: There is simply too much clothing to process. As it stands, 84 percent of all unwanted clothes end up in landfills, according to Newsweek. In New York City alone, this comes to about 400 million pounds thrown away annually—6 percent of the city’s waste stream. Traditionally, unwanted secondhand clothes are sent abroad, but some countries have started to reject the goods. Technology to transform the old clothes into new items isn’t ready yet, so many recyclers and designers are focusing on something else: getting consumers to buy less. “We have to educate consumers about the mindless consumption being forced down our throats,” says Adam Baruchowitz, the founder of Wearable Collections, a secondhand clothing retailer. “We need to be getting people to think twice about how quickly they consume things.”

06/11/22
                                                               

Plastic recycling doesn’t work and will never work

By Judith Enck and Jan Dell Photo: Katie Martin / The Atlantic; Getty

If the plastics industry is following the tobacco industry’s playbook, it may never admit to the failure of plastics recycling.

05/30/22
                                                               

Recycling bills need action by NYS Legislature

By NYS Legislature Photo: Morgan Campbell

Lots of flotsam and jetsam is floating through Albany during the final days of the legislative session but it is finally time to deal with an actual trash problem: New York’s outdated and unworkable recycling laws.

05/23/22
                                                               

More Consumers Doubtful Recycling Works, Study Reveals

By Dave Armon Photo: Dave Armon

Despite a strong desire to help the environment by recycling, American consumers are rapidly losing faith that the paper, plastic and metal containers chucked into those blue bins are being recycled, according to research presented at a sustainability conference today.

05/18/22
                                                               

U.S. plastics recycling rate slumps below 6 percent, analysis finds

By Taylor Telford Photo: Saul Loeb , Getty Images

Americans are recycling far less plastic, according to an analysis published Wednesday, with rates falling below 6 percent in 2021. The new findings come as this waste has rebounded from the pandemic, despite global efforts to curb pollution.

05/04/22
                                                               

How Recycling Got So Baffling

By Somini Sengupta Photo: Rinee Shah

A few years ago, my kid and I resolved to reduce our contribution to the landfill. As a test, we set a goal to empty our kitchen trash only once every two weeks.

04/22/22
                                                               

Trash or recycling? Why plastic keeps us guessing.

By Winston Choi-Schagrin and Hiroko Tabuchi Illustration: Rinee Shah

Did you know the ♻ symbol doesn’t mean something is actually recyclable? Play our trashy garbage-sorting game. Then, read on about how we got here, and what can be done.

04/21/22
                                                               

New Report Trashes Chemical Recycling—It Doesn’t Solve Plastic Pollution

By Lloyd Alter Photo: Justin Sullivan , Getty Images

After the recent signing of an agreement to develop a global treaty on plastics, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) cheered, noting its goal of “accelerating advanced technologies to recycle more of the 90% of plastics that don’t get recycled.” These advanced technologies are known as “chemical recycling” or “advanced recycling.”1

03/14/22