Greenpeace: Recycling rates fall, plastic production rises

Plastic recycling rates are declining in the United States. Production will increase. The circular economy is a “story” widely hailed by industry.

According to environmental group Greenpeace, plastic recycling rates in the U.S. are declining — while production is increasing. The circular economy for plastics is a “story” widely hailed by the industry, according to a report released by Greenpeace USA on Monday. According to the data, US households produced 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, of which only 2.4 million tons were recycled.

After reaching a record high of 10 percent in 2014, recycling rates have been declining, especially since China stopped accepting Western plastic waste in 2018, the report said. On the other hand, production of new, non-recycled plastics is increasing rapidly.

“Industry groups and big corporations are pushing recycling as a solution. In doing so, they’ve abdicated any responsibility,” Greenpeace USA campaign director Lisa Ramsden told AFP. Ramsden singled out Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co, Unilever and Nestlé as the main culprits.

All types of plastics are not accepted

And, according to Greenpeace USA, only two types of plastic are accepted at the nation’s 375 recovery facilities: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), commonly used in water and soda bottles, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), found in things like shampoo bottles. And found soap containers.

However, the recycling rate for PET and HDPE products is only 20.9 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively—both values ​​are slightly lower than the last survey conducted by Greenpeace USA in 2020.

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