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Hey, the recycling system is totally broken



Half of the garbage recycled by the residents of Philadelphia goes directly to an incinerator, where it is converted into energy. There may be recycling bins at Memphis Airport, but everything inside is sent straight to the dump. A 2019 study found that each state was in some way forced to restrict its recycling programs due to the economic impracticality of the current system.

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It suffers from unfavorable trade laws

Wow, that's depressing. Why didn't we do anything to fix the pile of steam that is our recycling system? Well, not much of it mattered until 2018. In the past, the U.S. has sold most of its recycled scrap to China because it has the factories and other facilities needed to process it into new products. It was a symbiotic, if not fair, relationship that had existed for decades. But when trade laws changed and the process became exponentially more expensive, China decided that they had had enough of our crap. Literally.

  We suspect that a million tons of discarded sprite bottles sounds cooler than it is. Sirtravelalot / Shutterstock We suspect that a million tons of discarded sprite bottles sounds cooler than it is.

New The restrictions introduced by the Chinese government stated that the maximum contamination rate for imported materials was 0.3 percent, a practically unattainable number for a country whose current contamination rate is again a cool 25 percent. And China knows that. Steve Changaris, director of the National Waste and Recycling Association, said, "They are kicking us out and trying to use their own waste so they can develop their own domestic recycling capacity." In other words, they want to process and reuse their own country's garbage. What a new idea, really.

We should probably also look at it. It looks like our recycled goods are piling up as we search for a country ready to accept them. In many cities, waste will very soon "run out of space" unless significant, major changes are made to our recycling system and funds are provided to the local infrastructure. In the meantime, we can help by making sure that everything we put in a trash bin really should go there, given the current state of the system, it's infinitely better to be on the safe side.

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