By: Karla Diaz
Although for years human beings have promoted recycling as an action that proposes a solution to the negative impact on the planet caused by waste, this premise may be different from reality.
Recycling can be seen as a citizen duty to counteract our footprint on the planet. Although this is not a lie, organizations defending the environment such as Greenpeace, assure that it is, as it is colloquially said, to cover the sun with a finger.
In your report Recycle: the industry fallacy in the fight against plastic pollution, the NGO stressed that the solution is not only to recycle, because in addition, society as a whole it should reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastics. It also accuses large industries of evading their responsibility and profiting from recycling.
“Corporations have told us that recycling is the best way in which we can contribute to preserving the environment, but in reality they are not telling us all the information they know about it,” the organization explained.
In 2018, the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation stated in the report The New Plastics Economy that companies could recover between $ 80 billion and $ 120 billion by recycling, rather than discarding the plastics they produce.
“Under the argument that in this way they contribute to caring for the environment, corporations started massive campaigns in favor of recycling and decided to make a business of their responsibility,” said Greenpeace, insisting that the real solution is to stop producing plastics and develop technologies to generate less polluting materials.
According to the organization, throughout history only less than 10 percent of the plastic produced worldwide has been recycled, which obviously does not address the current plastic emergency, as it is estimated that up to 12.7 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, the “equivalent of a truck full of waste of this material that is dumped on the coasts every minute.”
In addition, the report highlights the little infrastructure for adequate processes that Mexico has, in particular. According to data from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, until 2016 there were 30 waste separation plants in 13 states of the Republic, four crushing plants, 13 compaction plants, 13 composting plants and five biodigestion plants in Mexico. . All this, according to Greenpeace, is “insufficient” for the level of waste generated daily.
In the same way, the document ensures what is perhaps not so obvious: not all plastic is recyclable, because in some cases expensive and more polluting chemical processes are required for its reuse, such is the case of colored or silk-screened containers, tubes of toothpaste, disposable lighters or frying bags, among others.
What then is a real solution?
At the recent World Oceans Summit, held in March 2018, it was emphasized that the oceans do not have time to wait for long-term solutions, so the elimination of single-use plastics seems a more effective solution.
“Unfortunately, instead of looking for ways to eliminate its use, industry innovation focuses on new ways to collect and recycle plastic to give it a new utility. According to them ‘if the plastic is recycled, then it is no longer for single use,’ “Greenpeace said.
The report pointed out that plastic is the solid waste that has increased the most, going from 1.38 million tons in 2001 to 4.58 million in 2012, that is, it registered an increase of 232.4 percent.
Instead of recycling, corporations could start cutting back on plastic packaging production, the report proposes. In addition, it calls for business models to be innovated that are zero plastics in the production and distribution of its products, as well as choosing labels and presentations that do not make plastic an unusable material for recycling.
All this would have an impact on the economy of large corporations, since it involves the hiring of personnel for this sector, but indicates that the above has become the perfect argument for not giving way to the transition.
Meanwhile, according to Greenpeace data, the equivalent of a ton of garbage falls into the sea every minute, which “kills a hundred thousand mammals and a million seabirds annually” due to the ingestion of plastics. “Others die from entanglement, suffocation, strangulation or malnutrition from these wastes,” he said.
This adds one more consequence to the list: the drop in tourism. The presence of garbage in the sea can discourage tourism, which in turn results in loss of income and jobs, according to the UN.
In 2016, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi) reported that of the 2,458 municipalities and mayors in the country, only 77 (3.13%) had recycling collection centers (1,060 centers), which captured only 0.03% of the 40 million tons of recoverable solid waste (plastics, metals, glass, paper, among others), for which it was concluded that the country’s recycling capacity is barely 6.07%, which is concentrated in its mostly in Mexico City.
There are currently 25 entities that have legislated to ban single-use plastics. In most cases, the Law has already been approved; However, given the restrictions, shops and restaurants have tried to find materials that replace disposable ones in a more friendly way with the planet, although this is often counterproductive.
For example, Greenpeace points out that bio-based plastics are partially made from plant material, such as corn or sugar cane, but the rest of their composition is still fossil-based. A similar situation happens with biodegradable materials, which require specific conditions of heat and humidity to degrade, which do not exist in nature, so they do not disappear automatically. Likewise, compostable plastics cannot be composted at home, as they are designed to decompose under certain conditions that occur exclusively in industrial composting facilities.
But beware, don’t stop recycling
Although only 10 percent of the world’s total plastics production has been recycled, as long as single-use plastics bans are not a reality and large companies do not innovate in the production of items, recycling remains a option to counteract the environmental impact of the plastic epidemic.
The fact of separating the waste properly will allow it to be conceived as the by-products of consumption that can return to new production chains.
Many of them have great commercial value in the recycling market: such as bottles of water and other beverages (polyethylene terephthalate or PET), opaque plastic bottles (high-density polyethylene or HDPE), paper, cardboard, glass , multilaminated containers (tetrapak) and cans.
Now yes, then what to do with the waste? The key is, according to Patagonia, a brand that teaches how to fix clothes from home, in the five Rs: reject, reduce, reuse, recycle and reintegrate, just in that order that the zero waste movement has dictated.
“You reject what you don’t need, you reduce the consumption of what you cannot reuse, you reuse what you cannot reject or reduce, you recycle what you cannot reject, reduce or reuse and, finally, you reintegrate what you can do as compost (organic waste ), ”Patagonia said in a statement.
With the above, what has been proposed is the adoption of a circular economy, that is, replacing the linear process of extraction, use and disposal of resources by another that preserves material wealth.
This model has been defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as a “regenerative and restorative system that seeks to maintain products, components and materials at their highest level of value, through the effective use of resources and the preservation of natural capital.”
The circular economy seeks the recovery and recycling of raw materials, the use of renewable energies and suggests as an option and the rental of goods instead of their purchase, all to reduce the environmental impact.
DIY- Do It Yourself
There are other options that also involve a recycling process, for example the now famous Do It Yourself (DIY), also known as “do it yourself”.
According to Patagonia, DIY is a way to counteract consumerism and reduce our waste.
“Basically, DIY translates to ‘do it yourself or yourself.’ A simple definition of the concept is the creation, modification or repair of objects without the help of a specialist or through industrial production ”, he assured.
According to Patagonia, this alternative has its origins in the punk movement of the 70s of the last century, and was based on the autonomous clothing production, self-management and intervention of publications and images.
DIY encompasses many aspects: from small home repairs, to self-publishing magazines or gazettes, or assembling new electronic devices with components from old devices, among other alternatives.
“The ‘Do it yourself’ involves the exercise of creativity and manual dexterity to create new objects from others, whose useful life has ended,” said the brand.
Finally, he asserted that the “do it yourself” technique is an option to lead a life “in tune with caring for the environment.” In addition, “it helps you exercise your imagination, your creativity, clear your mind and is an excellent way to feel useful.”
This story, first published by El sol de México on April 7, 2021, has been shared as part of World News Day 2021. It is a global campaign to highlight the key role of data-driven journalism that provides reliable information and news in service. of humanity. #JournalismImporta.
Disclaimer: This article is generated from the feed and not edited by our team.