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Recycling: Myth and Reality

Sheri Latash, co-founder of Greener Glenview, shared these important comments on recycling at the June 21 forum called Recycling: Myth and Reality. The event was co-sponsored by the Village of Glenview and the Glenview Park District.

For videos and handouts provided by our panelists, visit here.

Recycling should be one of the simplest things we all can do to help protect the environment. But many of us are confused about what to put in our bins. Along with confusion about recycling, some of us have gotten cynical. Does a lot of our recycling end up in the landfill after all? Are plastics manufacturers just greenwashing by putting recycling symbols on products they know can’t be recycled?

Even dedicated recyclers ask themselves, how is it possible after all these years, that less than 10% of plastics are recycled? Is it a technology problem, a market problem, an education problem, a lack of will? Have we been bamboozled by industry? What can be done about it?

Well, the California Attorney General launched an investigation this spring focusing on the role of the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries in misleading the public about plastics recyclability. Separately, a lawsuit was recently settled against a number of consumer product companies and a national recycler. The settlement advances truth-in-labeling packaging and third-party verification that materials claiming to be recyclable are actually being recycled.

Recycling is not the cure-all for the mountains of waste we have created in our consumer society rooted in convenience. But recycling IS an important component in our effort to conserve and preserve natural resources, prevent pollution, and create a circular economy.

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