Plastic Producers Use America Recycles Day As Cover While They Pollute The Environment

America Recycles Day has only been in existence for two years, but it is already controversial, not because Americans don’t want to recycle, but because the plastic industry uses it as cover to continue polluting the environment.

Originally thought up by non-profit organization Keep America Beautiful, the day is supposed to encourage Americans to support and engage in recycling. The problem is that the day is backed by President Donald Trump’s fossil fuel industry-friendly Environmental Protection Agency along with some of the most egregious plastic polluters in the world, including Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Pepsico and many others.

Coca-Cola and Pepsico have previously pledged to reduce their reliance on and use of plastic, but the fruits of that promise are yet to be seen as both companies are the top plastic polluters in the world. Meanwhile, Nestle sucks up valuable water resources for pennies on the dollar, which they then bottle in plastic that will likely one day end up polluting the very water sources they steal.

Basically, these companies are “supporting” this particular day in the hopes that Americans will believe they actually care about the environment and want to recycle the poisonous plastic products they use.

After all, if people believe these single-use plastics can be easily recycled, they won’t oppose the increased production of them.

“Just like the fossil fuel industry, corporate polluters have been using recycling to justify ever-increasing production of single-use packaging, while taxpayers and cities are left to foot the bill,” Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives US and Canada program director Denise Patel told The Guardian. “Lower-income communities and communities of color, who are the hardest hit and the least responsible, bear the brunt of a model that has brought us to the brink of the waste and climate crisis.”

Indeed, singe-use plastics can’t be recycled, which is why it is often sent overseas where it piles up in landfills that are overflowing. Plastic pollution, including microplastics, are now found everywhere on Earth even in the most remote areas and inside our own bodies.

That last bit is not in the least surprising since the United States often burns plastic waste, which pollutes the air and contaminates the food supply. A recent study in Indonesia found that burning plastics results in the chemicals and microplastic particles ending up in the food chain, even finding contamination in chicken eggs and rice.

Rather than create a phony day for recycling, the government should pass laws banning single-use plastic production and mandating recycling instead of letting it be a voluntary activity.

“By putting laws in place that mandate recycling or incentivize recycling, what that tends to do psychologically is it increases peoples’ expectations that other people are going to participate,” University of Scranton conservation psychology lab director Jessica Nolan says. “No one wants to be a sucker – nobody wants to be spending all this time and energy doing something if no one else is doing it.”

And with plastic production set to increase in the next few years, we need these laws on the books now to save the planet before it becomes permanently and irreversibly polluted and poisoned. Only then will a day like America Recycles Day be relevant, because it will be every day of the year.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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