Recycling is not the answer

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

While the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Note: I wrote this originally in 2022) has been attacked from all sides for his comments on plastic recycling – and let me mention that I am no friend of his – he is, to a great extent, correct in what he said. Recycling is not the answer but it does not just go for plastic recycling but recycling in general as most so-called recycling is actually downcycling. 

When it comes to plastic recycling he has been more than correct because plastic cannot, unlike some metals and glass, be recycled infinitely and in many cases virgin polymer has to be added each and every time for strength. 

Therefore we need to get away from single use plastics such as plastic bottles (PET), carrier bags, and the like. Plastics that have a much longer lifespan and are a different type should not, automatically, placed in the evil department, as long as they are not single use, such as take out cutlery, for instance. That stuff does belong in the evil department as no one reuses those. 

On the other hand there are all too many things that are made from plastic that could be made from renewable sources and resources, such as wood. Bottles should, when it comes to bottles for sauces, drinks, and such like,  once again, be made from glass and they should be returned to be cleaned and reused and it should not just apply, as it used to be, drinks bottles. Also sauce bottles, glass jars, etc., should go back to be reused. 

Recycling of glass should only happen when the glass is actually beyond use, such as chipped or broken. Before that any glass containers, bottles and jars and what have you, should either be reused by the consumer in whose possession they are or they should go back to the place whence they came and be cleaned and refilled with new product. Adding a little deposit those jars would soon be returned the only problem is that we no longer have the infrastructure for such operations. 

When it comes to other things we must ensure that they are kept alive for as long as possible though that is, nowadays, a lot easier said than done as far too many products, even the likes of the more expensive “consumer” goods, TVs, radios, etc., and white goods, have been designed to be more or less non-repairable. Then again, even if they still would be we are lacking the menders to fix them. 

Clothes and footwear also are made in such a way that repair, unless one can do it oneself, is more expensive, and that is also the case with the goods mentioned in the previous paragraph, bar, maybe, white goods, to get them repaired than to buy new. Hence we have this waste problem. 

If something works, and can be kept working, regardless how old it is, it is better, environmentally, to keep it than to replace it with newer even if the newer is claimed to be better for the environment. 

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