A new report released by Greenpeace last week confirms that trying to recycle plastic is a “dead-end street” as the organization reveals tons of material has been transported to China where it was dumped or burned, but still categorized as “recycled.”

Writing for City Journal, John Tierney noted, “This has been obvious for decades to anyone who crunched the numbers, but the fantasy of recycling plastic proved irresistible to generations of environmentalists and politicians.”

“Mechanical and chemical recycling of plastic waste has largely failed and will always fail because plastic waste is: (1) extremely difficult to collect, (2) virtually impossible to sort for recycling, (3) environmentally harmful to reprocess, (4) often made of and contaminated by toxic materials, and (5) not economical to recycle,” Greenpeace concluded.

The reality is that most produced plastics cannot be recycled, whereas metal, paper, and cardboard all have properties that make them more easily recyclable.

Greenpeace cites threshold standards from a climate activist group, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation and their “New Plastic Economy” (EMF NPE), whose website says it aims to “solve big problems like climate change, waste, and pollution” through its big idea of a “circular economy.”

Greenpeace’s report found that “most common plastics in the US that are often considered recyclable – PET #1 and HDPE #2, typically bottles and jugs – fall well below the EMF NPE threshold, only achieving reprocessing rates of 20.9 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively. For every other type of plastic, the reprocessing rate is less than 5 percent.”

According to the report, “US. households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, only 2.4 million tons of which was recycled.”

Further, the report found, that many of these plastics were being accepted into processing plants where they were not recycled, but instead disposed of by some other means. Other plastics landed in China where they were dumped or burned, in turn causing harm to the environment, as Tierney noted.

“They preached it to children, mandated it for adults,” Tierney said, “and bludgeoned municipalities and virtue-signaling corporations into wasting vast sums—probably hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide—on an enterprise that has been harmful to the environment as well as to humanity.”

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