In the past year, a number of environmental organizations have filed lawsuits to fight misleading claims about recyclability by large companies. Environmental groups have also criticized plans by the oil and gas industry to expand production of petrochemicals, the main building blocks of plastic, as the process is highly polluting and creates new demand for fossil fuels.
The recycling symbol is “unknowingly telling the people who buy things, ‘You’re environmentally friendly,'” said Heidi Sanborn, the executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council, which encourages companies to take more responsibility for recycling their products.
“No one should be able to lie to the public,” she said.
In California, the bill gained the support of a coalition of environmental groups, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers. Recycling companies say the move will help them reduce the non-recyclable waste that is thrown into recycling bins and has to be transported, sorted and sent to landfill.
Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the nation’s largest waste and recycling companies, said in an interview that more than one-fifth of the material his company processes nationwide is non-recyclable waste. . That means that even on its best day, Republic is only 80 percent efficient, processing materials it shouldn’t, he said.
Some of the most common types of non-recyclable waste at Republic’s 70 US locations, which handle six million tons of recycling per year: snack bags, plastic wrap, shopping bags and packaging materials. Plastic bags, in particular, cannot be recycled in most street-side recycling programs and infamous recycling machines.
“There are many products on the market today that have the hunting darts that shouldn’t,” said Mr. Keller. “There aren’t really any real end markets, or any real way to reclaim those materials and eventually recycle them in curbside programs.”
The plastics and packaging industry has opposed the bill, saying it would create more consumer confusion, not less. An industry memo circulated to California lawmakers urges them to oppose the law unless it is amended, arguing that it would “create a new definition of recyclability with unworkable criteria for complex products and single-use packaging.” usage.”