We’re back! We have no idea why. We’ll speak no more of it. Did you miss us? Please hold your applause [claps hands in an empty room].
So, what the most consequential recycling (“re-cy-cling”) news of the year? Is it:
a) That science still hasn’t solved replication technology thus forcing us to constantly throw away empty food packages when we want them instantly refilled with their sweet goodness?
b) That members of both American political parties still cannot be melted down to make something more useful, like office building support beams?
c) That beer brewers consistently still use glass even though much of glass isn’t recyclable and cans are 100% so, and still hold the same tasty beer? (more on this later)
d) I would hope nobody said plastic straws. But I’m sure a whole bunch of people would say plastic straws.
For you see, plastic straws were once fine. Now they are evil. For some reason.
We already wrote about this last year, but it’s gotten worse since then.
It’s now gotten to the point where the government (in Washington DC, of course) has to employ their own Brown Shirt goon equivalent to threaten your local neighborhood restaurant.
Here’s the reality check:
1) Plastic straws make up about 0.000004% of discarded non-recyclable plastic waste
2) The vast, vast, vast majority of plastic waste that gets into the ocean or into landfills is due entirely to the extremely poor basic waste collection practices of East Asian countries
3) The major recycling news of the year is not straws, but the Chinese government’s ban on the importation of high error rate recycled waste from aboard. Almost nobody is talking about this, but it’s a big deal folks. Every municipal recycling program in America is impacted, as in, yours. But because standard American news sources are terrible, you have to go bathe in an article written by Gizmodo of all places to get a good story on the issue.
Every aspect of American recycling is currently in flux. But, for some reason, in early 2019 the hate is on plastic straws.
One of the goals (cue laugh track) of this degenerate blog has always been to question the easy answer, or the lunacy of the current fad. The fallacy of being seen, or being felt, to “do good”. Often to the exclusion of larger problems, or more concrete action.
The municipal recycling planner at your local town hall (who probably makes $34K a year) will make major decisions this year that have a greater impact to the planet than any one of the rest of us will do the rest of our lives. These folks at least deserve our attention.
Fixing China’s non-existent recycling program is hard. Getting into the nitty gritty of recycling costs per ton per waste category per overall waste gathered by your local town hall is hard to get around. But banning plastic straws is easy, and refusing to use them is an instant self-check gratification for somebody who has decided (because they were told so by somebody else) that said straws are now a big problem.
But easy answers don’t save the planet. Hard work does.