The next wrong moves in recycling will probably be the last ones, dirty materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and incineration.

Launched in the early 90s, dirty MRFs encouraged citizens to toss recyclables and garbage together, in the same can. When this sham failed, major garbage hauling corporations turned to single stream recycling.

Single stream/mixed recycling, involves tossing paper, plastic, metals, and sometimes glass, together in a single compartment truck. Neither the paper, glass, metal, nor plastic industry requested this type collection system. You don’t hear about contamination because there is no transparency in the MRFs.

Unfortunately, convenience has become a higher priority than transparency. Now that we are decades away from citizen-engaged, sorted, transparent recycling programs, it’s easy to get away with sham recycling. Politicians use it to get votes, progressives, lacking institutional memory or in the trench experience, fail to do in-depth research before promoting the latest greatest waste “solution”.

Big Oil, Big Plastic, Big Soda, Big Retail, and Big Garbage are all taking advantage of the dumbed down U.S. population. U.S. citizens are so detached from their waste, that once it hits the curb, they give zero thought to the final destination of their discards.

Koch Bro Project Juno, dirty MRF with a new name, will “separate” food waste from metals, plastic, and paper. Another environmental horror feeding the U.S. addiction to convenience are cracker (plastic) plants. Proposed legislation addressing the plastic problem, Break Free from Plastic has good points. Bad news, it advocates total corporate control of local recycling programs. And don’t forget the original threat to real recycling, incineration, now called Waste to Energy, (WTE).

Those doing in-depth recycling research are rightly concerned about monopolies, environmental and social justice issues. We need sustainability initiatives that truly support a healthy, socially just planet, instead of “more recycling”.

Louise Mann