The Pandemic is Impacting Our Recycling Efforts More Than We Realize
Posted on: October 30th, 2020
The pandemic has influenced many industries – both positively and negatively – over the last several months. What few people consider however is how it’s impacting our recycling efforts.
Face shields and gloves are a world-wide necessity for those venturing outside of their homes and interacting with the public – especially those in the medical community.
Curbside delivery at restaurants and increases in online ordering have produced immeasurable amounts of waste in the form of plastic containers, bubble wrap and styrofoam.
The problem? There are two really.
One, many individuals who were religious recyclers prior to the pandemic are now disposing of products which could be recycled into trash bins as a way to ward off possible contaminants.
Two, most of the items mentioned above cannot be easily recycled.
The two points above are most certainly impacting our recycling efforts while creating a bit of a price war between recycled and new plastic. Sadly, it’s a war recyclers are losing – worldwide – according to price data and interviews globally.
The reason? “Nearly every piece of plastic begins life as a fossil fuel. The economic slowdown has punctured demand for oil. In turn, that has cut the price of new plastic,” according to Reuters.com.
The pandemic has propagated a scary trend to create MORE plastic products out of virgin material, not less.
“The oil and gas industry plans to spend around $400 billion over the next five years on plants to make raw materials for virgin plastic, according to a study in September by Carbon Tracker, an energy think tank,” according to Reuters.com.
This means more plastics are going into landfills and the ocean as less are being recycled – all because new plastic is now cheaper to purchase and produce.
This is obviously a more complex topic than can be covered in this post. But the sad reality is that the pandemic has given oil companies the “perfect storm” necessary to produce more plastic, which will inevitably be impacting our recycling efforts while burdening landfills and the environment.
What can YOU do?
For starters, organizations should find ways to reduce their reliance on plastics. One solution is molded fiber pulp, which can be successfully used in a wide variety of applications. Best of all, molded fiber pulp will harmlessly decompose in landfills or soil and can be easily recycled with your state and local paper programs.
Plastic will continue impacting our recycling efforts so long as we support it’s need in the market. Organizations have a choice and the choice should be molded fiber pulp.
Learn more about why fiber here.
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