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gabe

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This isn't universal, but it is, unfortunately somewhat common; even if the problem doesn't occur at the building level, it often occurs at the transfer station level; and if not there, many loads of recyclables are rejected at the plant to which they are sent, for any number of reasons, though the leading ones are contamination of the waste to the point where it isn't viable; or low-demand for the resulting products, in which case, it still goes to landfill.

Recycling isn't a scam, in the inherent sense, but as practiced commonly in North America, its far less effective than advertised and far less than one would hope.



They put the recyclables in jail?

incinerated i mean! Although people should be incarcerated for throwing out perfectly good items 😆 My antique lamps in my house and vintage Marantz amplifier and turntable, i pulled out of a dumpster at a customers house i was working on. They work perfectly and are worth thousands on the used market!

I always shed a tear when i see these old antiques from a Forrest Hill or Rosedale mansion being tossed in the dumpster. They usually replace the fixtures with something that looks like it came from IKEA.
 

Davidackerman

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I'd love to see the city do an audit of its recycling program. The cost and effectiveness. I'm sure it will prove how much BS it is. Among consumer products, the evidence is that only paper products have a truely viable recycling business model. Only a small percentage of what we use in Toronto is fully recycled. But of course we don't know because no audit has been done. My guess is that much of it is about "us feeling good" about what we can do.
 

junctionist

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Recycling plastic is, to some extent, greenwashing for the plastics and beverage industries. Society consumes way more plastic than there's a market for in terms of recycling. Some of it gets burned or sent to developing countries, where it often ends up in a landfill or burned.

Sometimes, the things that are made from recycled plastic are also polluting, like plastic wraps and films that get used once and then get thrown in the garbage. Filling up a ship with recycling and transporting it around the world generates a lot of carbon emissions.

Recycling plastics can be better than doing nothing, but at the end of the day, recycling plastic has a negative environmental impact. A lot of people are oblivious to it because it seems like a positive thing to do. It's far better for the environment to minimize or eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
 

Northern Light

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Recycling plastic is, to some extent, greenwashing for the plastics and beverage industries. Society consumes way more plastic than there's a market for in terms of recycling. Some of it gets burned or sent to developing countries, where it often ends up in a landfill or burned.

Sometimes, the things that are made from recycled plastic are also polluting, like plastic wraps and films that get used once and then get thrown in the garbage. Filling up a ship with recycling and transporting it around the world generates a lot of carbon emissions.

Recycling plastics can be better than doing nothing, but at the end of the day, recycling plastic has a negative environmental impact. A lot of people are oblivious to it because it seems like a positive thing to do. It's far better for the environment to minimize or eliminate the use of single-use plastics.

I agree, essentially, with what you've said above; but I would add, no option, except for consuming less per person, period is particularly stellar.

I'm a proponent of re-use. But let's take bottles for beverages as an example, and point out if you return empties, they will have to be taken by vehicle to somewhere that can clean/sterilize them, be that the bottling plant or another location. So you have a transportation component of pollution in shifting the product around. Using hot water/steam as the sterilizing agent is generally very energy intensive. The bottles will then need to be stored for a period of time, before being refilled.

Of course due to breakage, and thinning of material w/age, or inability to sterilize some product there will still be new production as well.

Beyond which, we have the matter than glass is typically heavier than plastic, which make moving it more energy intensive as well.

Now, that's not to suggest it doesn't end up ranking better than single-use plastic, its just not as simple as one might imagine.

****

The alternatives to plastic wrap or 'ziplock' bags are equally challenging. If you use them to freeze things, for instance, what is the alternative? There are glass containers than can withstand freezing, but they are more expensive
posing an issue for low-income earners; they take up more room inside and outside the fridge/freezer, which then means you need a larger fridge/freezer which is a source of pollution itself; then, for good measure, we need to note
the energy/pollution involved each time you wash those containers in hot water and soap and put that down the drain into the City sewer.

Again, I truly am not arguing against the glass container here, nor in favour of plastic wrap.

I'm just pointing out its a very complex issue in that virtually every choice will have environmental and social externalities.

****

I think when it comes to reducing waste, one of the better options is to have people buy less stuff in the first place, particularly things they use infrequently. As an example, lots of people buy camping equipment that may only see use for 1-2 weekends per year. That means its sitting in a storage room/locker being of no particular use to anyone for 350+ days per year.

A good alternative there, as it is for many things, is having good, convenient rental options available.

The more things people can have available to them, within a reasonable time, at a reasonable cost, on a pay-per-use/rental basis instead of having to own them for the rare experience of use, the better off we would be.

We can also do a great deal more to reduce loss of perishable food product; but that's about a host of things, not really recycling.
 

Admiral Beez

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Recycling plastic is, to some extent, greenwashing for the plastics and beverage industries. Society consumes way more plastic than there's a market for in terms of recycling. Some of it gets burned or sent to developing countries, where it often ends up in a landfill or burned.

Sometimes, the things that are made from recycled plastic are also polluting, like plastic wraps and films that get used once and then get thrown in the garbage. Filling up a ship with recycling and transporting it around the world generates a lot of carbon emissions.

Recycling plastics can be better than doing nothing, but at the end of the day, recycling plastic has a negative environmental impact. A lot of people are oblivious to it because it seems like a positive thing to do. It's far better for the environment to minimize or eliminate the use of single-use plastics.
The majority of plastic is recycled no more than once, usually ending up in another product that mixes various types, rendering it unrecyclable downstream. After that I’m okay with waste plastic being buried underground, after all that‘s where it came from. It’s a better option than it ending up in the oceans, as litter or burned.
 

just east of the creek

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True the answer is use less. But I would love to see then city audit its recycling system.
Auditing the cities recycling program would be very educational for all of us who think we are doing such a good job of sorting, washing, reusing where we can, before recycling. If I am an example, there is a wide disconnect between the bins on my street, and the waste trailers heading down the 401. Auditing the cities programs, not just to point a finger at this city, but to shine a light on use, reuse, recycling of household and commercial materials could be eye opening.

My kids are pushing me to do an Ag. Audit re usage on the farm. Apparently we are badly behind in the recycling of binder twine, feed bags and the like. I may think I am running a greener operation, but the proof may be in the details.

I would think the same goes for the city, any city in Ontario.
 

afransen

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My faith in humanity is strongly diminished when I see the waste bins at my office kitchenettes. Despite ample and clear signage, people still put garbage in the green bin, in the recycling, etc. Just appalling.
 

MisterF

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The craziest thing about this video is that the three arrow logo with a number in the middle that's on every plastic item isn't a recycling symbol. How many people actually know that? It just goes to show that no amount of personal responsibility is going to solve the issue of plastic waste. Since plastics are a by-product of the fossil fuel industry, plastics are going to be ubiquitous as long as the oil and gas are the world dominating industries they are today. This is yet another reason to support electric vehicles, battery development, and renewable energy. If these trends cut O&G down to size, then plastics aren't going to be the cheapest option for every possible use anymore and those industries will have reduced lobbying power. Maybe then we'll see less plastic.

The alternatives to plastic wrap or 'ziplock' bags are equally challenging. If you use them to freeze things, for instance, what is the alternative? There are glass containers than can withstand freezing, but they are more expensive
posing an issue for low-income earners; they take up more room inside and outside the fridge/freezer, which then means you need a larger fridge/freezer which is a source of pollution itself; then, for good measure, we need to note
the energy/pollution involved each time you wash those containers in hot water and soap and put that down the drain into the City sewer.

Again, I truly am not arguing against the glass container here, nor in favour of plastic wrap.

I'm just pointing out its a very complex issue in that virtually every choice will have environmental and social externalities.
What I've started doing is freezing things in plastic containers. They're still plastic but they can be washed and reused many times before having to be thrown out. Even though they become waste eventually it's still better than throwing out a ziplock bag every time. And the dishwasher is running anyway.

Although plastics have made a lot of products possible that didn't exist before, there are lots of cases where perfectly good alternatives to plastic exist. Butcher paper for meat, glass bottles, cardboard for store products instead of that impossible-to-open plastic blister packaging. Of course the oil industry has made plastic the most economic option so nothing is going to change while that industry is so huge.
 

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