Recycling Plastic Is Great, But Not as Great as Avoiding Plastic in the First Place

The issue of plastic pollution has turned into what some would call an environmental crisis. In the last couple of years, we’ve learned that the plastic in the world’s oceans will weigh more than the ocean’s fish by 2050, and microscopic plastic particles have quickly been working their way into our water supply. In fact, it’s estimated that over 90 percent of U.S. tap water contains microplastics, and we don’t yet know what the health effects of this are.

Many corporations have been responding to plastic pollution by making pledges to transition away from disposable plastics in favor of recyclable plastics. For instance, this past summer, Starbucks announced that it will phase out plastic straws by 2020, and will replace them with a recyclable sippy cup lid similar to other single-use coffee lids.

But is it enough to switch to recyclable plastic? Unfortunately, it isn’t. The world is struggling to recycle all of the plastic that we currently have. A lot of plastic that is considered “recyclable” still ends up in the landfill.

Now that China is no longer accepting the bulk of U.S. plastic waste, Americans are being forced to address the realities of so-called “recyclable” plastic at home. Fewer plastics are being collected for recycling nationwide. As it turns out, the new Starbucks lid may not be recyclable in most areas after all.

Ultimately, this doesn’t change how important it is to recycle plastic. In fact, we should recycle all the plastic we possibly can, at all times. We don’t want valuable materials ending up in the landfill, and we don’t want to create more plastic than we need.

But even though recycling is great, it isn’t enough on its own. It would be even better if we could learn to reduce the plastic we’re using in the first place. By avoiding unnecessary consumption and switching to reusable materials, we can take a lot of pressure off of landfills and recycling centers.

Try to avoid single-use plastics as much as possible, and use only plastics that can be recycled locally. The less plastic we use, the less we need to recycle — and the less we’ll pollute our environment.

Learn more about what plastics we recycle in Truckee.


El problema de la contaminacion de el plastico se ha convertido en lo que algunos llamarian una crisis ambiental. En los ultimos años, nosotros hemos aprendido que el plastico en los oceanos de el mundo pesara mas que los peces de el oceano para 2050, las particulas plasticas microscopicas han estado abriendo camino rapidamente en nuestro suministro de agua. De hecho, es estimado que mas de 90 porciento de la agua de grifo de los Estados Unidos contiene microplastico, y todavia no sabemos los riesgos de salud de el microplastico.

Muchas corporaciones han estado responiendo a la contaminacion de plasticp haciendo promesas para la transicion de los plasticos desechables a favor de los plasticos recicables. Por ejemplo, este ultimo verano, Starbucks anucio que eliminara gradualmente los popotes de plastico para e 2020 y los reemplazara con una tapa recicable similar a otras tapas de café de un solo uso.

Pero es suficiente con solo cambiar a plastico reciable? Desafortunadamente, no lo es. El mundo esta luchando para reciclar todo el plastico que tenemos actualmente. Mucho de el plastico que es considerado plastico “reciable” aun termina en nuestros vertederos.

Ya que China no aceptara nuestro residuos de plastico, los estadounidenses se ven obligados a abordar las realidades del llamado plastico “recicable” en el hogar. Se estan recolectando menos plasticos para reciclar en todo el pais. Como resulta, es probable que las tapas que usara Starbucks no se podran reciclar al final.

Ultimadamente, esto no cambia que tan importante es reciclar el plastico. De hecho, debemos reciclar todo el plastico que podamos, en todo momento. No queremos que objectos de mucho valor terminen en nuestros vertederos, y tampoco no necesitamos hacer mas plastico de lo que necesitamos.

Y auque el reciclaje es genial, no es suficiente. Seria aun mejor si pudieramos aprender a reducir el plastico que estamos usando en primer lugar. Al evitar el consume innecesario y cambiar a materiales reutilizables, podemos eliminar la presion de los vertededoros y centros de reciclaje.

Trata de evitar plastico de solo un uso lo mas posible que se pueda, y solo use platico que pueda ser reciclado localmente. Cuando menos plastico utilizemos lo menos que tendremos que reciclar- y lo menos que contaminaremos nuestro medio ambiente.

Aprende mas acerca de como reciclamos nuestros plasticos en Truckee.