The Failure of Plastics Recycling: Background information when reading The Climate Book

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The Climate Book

The Facts and the Solutions

by Greta Thunberg

The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg X
The Climate Book by Greta Thunberg
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2023, 464 pages

    Feb 13, 2024, 464 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rose Rankin
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About this Book

The Failure of Plastics Recycling

This article relates to The Climate Book

An assortment of plastic bottlesMost of us are familiar with the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle," and the effectiveness of this slogan inspired a generation of Americans to put plastics of all kinds into recycling bins rather than their trash. The problem is that, as contributor Nina Schrank points out in The Climate Book, "this narrative is perhaps the greatest example of greenwashing on the planet today." Despite shipping the problem out of sight and claiming that new technologies will continue producing plastics without creating waste, the fact remains that the vast majority of plastics can't be and aren't recycled.

Worldwide, only 9% of plastic waste is recycled, and in the U.S. that number drops to 5%, according to recent studies. The reasons for this are numerous, but the leading factor is the nature of plastics themselves. There are thousands of different types of plastics, and they can't be recycled together because of their varied chemical compositions, "making it impossible to sort the trillions of ...

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