CNN recently featured AMBR co-founders Lynn Hoffman and Kate Davenport of Eureka Recycling to address the question, “How much of my recycling actually gets recycled?” The feature was part of CNN’s series “Let’s Talk About the Climate Apocalypse.”
CNN dispatched their team to find out where recyclables go after CNN-viewer Lilly Geisler called in to ask her climate question: Where does my recycling really go? The answer, of course, is not so simple.
The key to the confusion is the recycling arrow found on most consumer plastics. As mission-based recyclers providing community recycling education for the past five decades, AMBR members are well-versed in this oft-asked question: Does the recycling arrow symbol mean the package is recyclable?
“It’s a marketing campaign meant to make plastic look like it’s more of an environmental product than it is,” Lynn Hoffman, co-president of Eureka Recycling and National Coordinator of AMBR, told CNN.
“The real truth is arrows don’t mean anything about the recyclability of products.”
For discarded plastic to be recycled back into feedstock for use in new products, there must be a viable end market. However, after China passed their national sword policy in 2019, this end market no longer exists for plastics marked 3, 6, and 7.
AMBR members further note the ubiquity of plastics makes the problem difficult to manage. Recycling is a part of the solution, but it cannot solve the problem our plastics consumption is causing.
“We’re using a lot of packaging for one-time usage,” said Kate Davenport, co-president of Eureka Recycling and co-founder of AMBR.
“[AMBR] thinks there needs to be standards and accountability around packaging… we can’t put all the pressure on the consumer to figure this out. It’s too much. It’s too confusing.”
Recycling is an essential part of a Zero-Waste future, but we need everyone to do their part, especially packaging companies and retailers.
If you have questions about the packaging crisis and how recycling operators are working to mitigate this crisis, please get in touch with us at email@example.com.