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    5 Plastic Recycling Myths It’s Time We Stopped Believing

    Throwing items in the recycling bin is such a feel-good exercise—you believe you’re helping protect the planet! But it turns out that the “reuse” and “recycle” parts of the three R’s of recycling aren’t as simple as they seem. It’s time we educate ourselves about what actually happens to what we throw in the recycling bin.

    Myth #1: All plastic thrown in the bin gets recycled into other things.

    Broad City, Comedy Central

    Most “recycled” plastic is downcycled, not recycled. Some of it gets turned into lower-quality plastic, which is then combined with “virgin” plastic to make new products. After one or two remakes, it just becomes trash. The hard truth is that most plastic materials (75%) are landfilled.

    Myth #2: Plastic is the most recyclable material.

    AVADA Environmental / Via

    Metal cans are endlessly recyclable, as are glass containers (when they’re not broken). They can be made into the same product over and over again. A majority of people think that plastic is endlessly recyclable. Think again! Some plastics aren’t recyclable at all, including straws and bags. Others get broken down into very small pieces, called microplastics, which can be ingested by people and animals.

    Myth #3: Recycling plastic is the best way to help the environment.

    TerraCycle / Via @terracycle

    Recycling plastic is definitely better than tossing your plastic materials in the trash. Unfortunately, lots of recycled plastic used to be shipped to countries like China. Now, it’s being sent back to the U.S., ending up in landfills or being incinerated, potentially releasing toxins into the air. That’s why purchasing and then recycling metal and glass products is better for the environment, since those are recycled more often and can be made into the same products again and again, infinitely!

    Myth #4: It doesn’t matter that I throw everything in one bin. It all gets recycled anyway.

    Sesame Street / Via

    Actually, throwing all materials in the same bin, aka single-stream recycling, has made the whole process much more expensive. Some cities are charging recycling customers three to four times what they used to, and others are just burning the recycling they collect.

    Myth #5: There’s no point in recycling. I should just throw everything in the trash.

    The Simpsons, Fox

    Wait! Recycling is still a good idea, but it can be much more effective when you make smart decisions about what you buy in the first place. This starts at the grocery store! By avoiding plastic—single-use and otherwise—and opting for products in metal and glass containers, you can help reduce plastic pollution, reuse packaging that is more environmentally friendly, and recycle more efficiently, making your local recycling program more sustainable!

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