I recently heard some shocking news at a Halloween party that was scarier than the ghosts and serial killers running up and down the street asking for candy. It has to do with recycling, and what our country is actually doing with it. When you throw that plastic water bottle or newspaper into the recycling bin, you have the best of intentions.
Recycling To China
What you didn’t know is that we ship most of our recycling to China. We have been doing so for years. Years ago, China offered the United States a deal they couldn’t refuse: they offered top dollar to have all of our recycled plastics shipped to them.
Did you know that 70% of the world’s plastic waste – equivalent to 7 million tons a year — ended up in China over the last decade?
Recycling is a dirty situation because before China came along to save us from our recycling ineptitude, most of our recycling ended up in landfills.
Recently, the Chinese government cut back on nearly all imports of recycling trash. As of 2018, Chinese were only collecting 1% of what they did previous years.
Now in the US, there is a surplus of plastic that does not have a home. That is a dangerous notion considering this world already has an enormous problem with plastic pollutions in our oceans and other waterways.
Some communities are using warehouse space to house plastic, while other communities like Eugene, Oregon have stopped collecting certain plastics altogether. Now, our recycled junk is either going into landfills again, or getting incinerated, which greatly contibutes to air pollution problem.
My husband recently went to our local recycling center in San Diego to recycle cardboard boxes and he was turned away. They would not accept our cardboard! We had to throw it in the landfill.
the future of recycling
There is a company in New Zealand that has come up with one solution for our plastic quagmire. ByFusion’s goal is to recycle 100 million tons of plastic by 2030. How will they do this? By using steam, ByFusion is able to compress any kind of plastic – number one through seven – into ByBlocks, which can be used as a quality, advanced building material.
ByFusion’s mission is to protect our environment by enabling the recycling industry to recycle the unrecyclable.
ByFusion’s ByBlocks have created a new pavilion in Kauai that uses thousands of pounds of plastic gathered on the island each month.
In honor of World Oceans Day, ByFusion assembled a lifeguard tower made with ByBlock on the sand at Bruce’s Beach in Manhattan Beach, California, to show how plastic can be put to good use instead of becoming an environmental hazard.
The lifeguard tower in Los Angeles and the school pavilion in Kauai will be the first-ever structures built in the United States collectively diverting 3.5 tons of plastic waste from our landfills and oceans.
ByFusion’s plastic reuse concept is very popular. This is the time for other companies to begin following suit – finding ways to reuse what we already have instead of throwing it away. If our recycling program is dying, then our reuse program must spring to life with innovation and a drive to think outside the box before it’s too late.
reusing to reduce plastic pollution
When we talk about recycling dying, a sentiment stated on my home page, this is what we are referring to. This is why it is more important than ever to reuse.
Will other companies around the world follow suit in the quest to reuse the plastic that is polluting our oceans? Since recycling has proven to be a flop, we as a society will need to think outside the box and find different ways to use our junk so we aren’t swimming in plastic. Perhaps one day we will have houses built out of plastic blocks and roads built out of plastic sheets that was once someone’s Aquafina plastic water bottle.
As the mother of four children, including a set of triplets, it is important to me that my family all honor the earth, giving back and preserving the health of our oceans by making small changes in everyday life. Since beginning Ocean Junkies, my entire family has a new conscious awareness of using plastic straws and utensils in restaurants and how it’s related to the trash we see on the beach. It is my hope that through Ocean Junkies and other wonderful activist websites, we can raise awareness about plastic pollution and increase sustainable living by re-using what we have already created and creating from biodegradable and compostable materials.