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What I should have known about recycling...

Last night, while watching the nightly news, I heard something that shocked me. It was a segment about recyclable materials, namely plastics, and what the newscaster told me left me feeling completely manipulated and misled...

Like most people, I have always thought that the little triangle of arrows you find stamped on most plastic items (takeout containers, product packaging, for example) meant that the material can be recycled. That's the symbol on every recycling bin, right? It's almost universal. Those arrows always makes me feel a bit better about purchasing something wrapped in unnecessary plastic——it will be reused if I put it in my recycling bin, right?

Apparently not.

When stamped on plastic items, those chasing arrows mean nothing! It's a product stamp used by the plastics industry to indicate the class of resin used—not to indicate any kind of recycle-ability. In fact, the newscaster (and subsequent articles I've read to follow up and confirm), indicate that the only plastic materials that are recyclable are milk jugs, bottles, and some dairy containers. I feel completely misled and dismayed—not only are these items not READILY recyclable—they're not recyclable at all! No one wants them, and that mean all of the plastic Americans use everyday is going into landfills—not into recycle centers, like we've been lead to believe. In fact, recycling centers specifically remove anything that's not a jug, bottle or container and throw it out.

What does this mean? I know I'm going to try my hardest to stop buying any plastic that is not a milk jug, bottle, or dairy container.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this issue? Should I have known about this earlier? Any ideas on how we can cut down on our plastic dependence?

Northern America
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