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Proper Recycling

Don’t put your recyclables in a plastic bag.

●       Plastic bags cause issues in the recycling process by wrapping around and jamming recycling equipment.

●       Plastic bags contaminate paper bales, cause problems at compost facilities, and blow off of landfills and into the aquatic environment.

●       The best place to recycle plastic bags:

○       Grocery stores who collect plastic bags.

○       City recycling programs.


You can’t recycle Styrofoam.

●       Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene) gets easily contaminated and recycling facilities do not deep clean these materials.

●       Styrene is a petroleum product, so it is flammable and hard to break down.

●       Styrofoam in landfills take 500 years to breakdown.


Most juice boxes and milk cartons aren’t recyclable.

●       These containers are mostly paper, but have a thin plastic coating, low-density polyethylene (LPDE).

●       These items are individually recyclable, but are hard to separate these linings from the cartons.

○       Some facilities offer hydro-pulping that can achieve this separation.



●       Americans recycles 49% of aluminum cans and can be returned to the shelves as a new can as quickly as 60 days once recycled.

●       Aluminum foils have food particles attached, which makes it harder to recycle.


Steel and Tin:

●       Tin comes from the micro-thin coating of tin inside cans to protect the flavor and prevent the can from corroding.

●       71% of steel cans are recycled which saves 75% of the energy it would take to create steel from raw materials



●       Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and Staples have recycling opportunities.

●       Electronics cannot go to recycling centers.


Recycling Tips:

●       All plastic bottles and cardboard can be recycled.

●       Most metallic items can be recycled (tin foil, spray cans, food cans).

●       Keep space in a cupboard to make it easier to recycle.

●       To reduce foul odors, wash off food waste before placing into recycling bin.

●       “Recyclable” disposable coffee cups are lined with polyethylene which makes it hard to recycle so facilities will treat them as trash. The coffee will contaminate the rest of the materials, which will now be processed as trash.

Recycling Centers in Atlanta:

●       CHaRM: 404-600-6386

●       Green Junk Removal & Recycling: 404-664-8933

●       Caraustar Doraville Recycling: 770-451-1334

●       Roswell Recycling Center: 770-442-8822

●       Keep Atlanta Beautiful: 404-249-5853

●       Sandy springs Recycling Center: 770-551-7794

●       WestRock Recycling: 770-448-2193

Impact of plastic

  • In WW2, the government spent over $3 billion on expanding petrochemical plants to create more plastics.

  • When the war was over, the U.S oil and chemical companies were able to buy these factories for cheap.

  • After the war, production potential needed an outlet so plastics flooded into consumer markets.

  • Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic in the Earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, habitats, and humans.

  • Plastics that act as pollutants are categorized into micro-. Meso-, or macro- debris.

  • By 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by weight.

  • Babies are born pre-polluted by the food the mother ingests.

  • Plastic is a petroleum product; to truly divest from fossil fuels, we must reduce our collective plastic footprint.

  • Plastic is a durable material made to last forever, yet 33% of plastics are used once and discarded.

    • 99% of all plastics are produced from chemicals sourced from oil and gas.

  • Plastic cannot biodegrade; it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, which animals ingest and die from abdominal pain.

  • Americans alone discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year; only 8% gets recycled. The rest ends up as litter and a small portion is incinerated.

  • Plastic spoils our fresh, drinkable groundwater.

  • Buried beneath each landfill, plastic leachate full of toxic chemicals are seeping into the groundwater and flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.

  • Plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating microplastics (found in face washes) and absorbing their toxins. The substance displaces nutritive algae that creatures up the food chain require.

  • Manufacturers’ additives in plastics, like flame retardants, BPA’s and PVC’s, can leach their own toxins. These oily poisons repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris.

  • Chemicals leached by plastics are in the blood and tissue in all humans. Exposure causes cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption, etc.

  • Only 56% of plastics are recyclable, but only 9% have been recycled.


Plastic Capitalism:

  • Capitalism- defined as production for profit for a competitive market- is an economic system in which the private profit maximization motif lies at the core of its virtues and maladies.

    • Its virtues are embedded in its impressive productivity and growth rates.

    • The profit maximization logic induces the producers to specialize in what they are best at producing and invest in the latest technologies to increase productivity and efficiency.

  • The market mechanisms under capitalism do not provide incentives for preserving the environment.

    • Firms are constantly threatened by market competition to cut costs and optimize profit.

    • The environment falls prey to the compulsive market behavior of the capitalist mode of production

  • Major culprits are the supermarkets, who use 800,000 tons of plastic packaging every year.

  • To counter the criticism, some supermarkets have said they will switch over to paper-based packaging (biodegradable).

    • Supermarkets using paper-based packaging have said that it is inefficient for customers, and this did not change the plastic habits of customers.

    • These markets have soon started losing profit, but started focusing more heavily on food wastes.

  • Paper packaging requires more energy to manufacture than plastic, so it will generate more greenhouse gases.

    • Also causes deforestation.

  • It is more profitable to dump plastic waste than to recycle it.

  • Governments are not prepared to create a bill and are looking for a cheap way out.

  • Most industrialized countries export nearly all of their plastic waste to poorer countries “for recycling”.

    • China was the main recipient, but in 2017 refused to take any more because processing the material was becoming expensive.

    • Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia are now taking in wastes.

    • Most plastic in these Asian countries are being tipped into rivers by super-exploited child labourers.

    • As a result, these countries are the top ten countries contributing to ocean plastic waste, but nearly all of this pollution originates in industrialized countries.




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