The "Myth" of Plastic Recycling

Greenpeace activists in California blocked loading operations this spring at a dock holding recycled plastic waste bound for Southeast Asia to draw attention to what they called the "myth" of plastic recycling. "We're being duped," said Ann Leonard, a Greenpeace organizer, in a press statement. "The plastics industry wants us to feel good about using plastic, so they promote 'recycling,' when the truth is it's being dumped on the Third World."

According to the environmental organization, an investigation last year showed that a portion of U.S. plastic waste is simply dumped in Asian countries including China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

"We're not trying to discourage legitimate recycling of paper and glass," said Leonard. "But when it comes to plastic, people should rethink recycling. The only environmentally responsible thing you can do with plastic is stop buying it."

Jim Rice is editor of Sojourners. Brigitte Kerpsack assisted with research.

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Sojourners Magazine August 1993
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