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GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
A large bundle of compressed cardboard boxes ready for recycling
Image by Jon Moore  / Unsplash
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Why is Recycling Difficult?

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There is no denying that we all know we should recycle. We hear it, we see it, and we know it. So why in the name of mother nature, is it so difficult to recycle?

Some believe they are making a positive impact and are unaware of the misleading symbolism concerning plastic products that appear to be recyclable but aren’t. Others have absorbed societal attitudes that make recycling feel like someone else’s responsibility.

From a global perspective, there is an imbalance in the way recycling is both regarded and executed. Even the upside to plastic, it’s adaptability, can explain the difficulty behind recycling.

The Downside to Versatility

The rise of plastic was primarily credited to its ability to morph into whatever consumers could imagine, eventually necessitating many classifications for disposal purposes.  The Resin Identification Codes on plastic are not recycled codes as it’s easy to assume. They’re a way to understand what kind of material is present so that the public can understand how to dispose of it properly, which is complicated as laws can vary.

On each of disposable material, there are numerical indications that symbolize the contents, or their Resin Identification Number. These all have their instructions for recycling. They appear as follows:

(1) Polyethylene Terephthalate

(2) High-Density Polyethylene

(3) Polyvinyl Chloride

(4) Low-density Polyethylene

(5) Polypropylene

(6)Polystyrene

(7) Misc. plastics

With so many different ways to classify material contents in plastic, the general public should be informed on recycling laws as they pertain to each state in the U.S.

Varying Initiatives

Initiatives to recycle on a global scale vary. Because of this, recycling is difficult to tackle from nation to nation. If efforts are inconsistent in the way that they are regarded, classified, and executed, some gaps are challenging to fill. Here is a sample of the varying percentages observed from the following nations:

  • Germany 62%
  • Canada 27%
  • The United States 34%
  • The United Kingdom 39%
  • Belgium 58%
  • France 35%
  • Austria 63%
  • Italy 36%
  • South Korea 49%
  • Japan 21%
  • Taiwan 60%
  • Australia 30%

Recycling Cheat Sheet

To help make recycling easier and more straightforward, we’ve compiled a cheat sheet to understanding what goes inside those bins.

Yellow Collection Bin

  • Cardboard (flattened)
  • Newspapers and Inserts (no plastic bags)
  • Office and School Paper
  • Mail
  • Magazines
  • Dry Food Boxes
  • Cardboard Paper Rolls
  • Pizza Boxes (no food stains)

Blue Collection Bin

  • Plastic Bottles and Containers (lids on)
  • Cans, Food, and Beverages
  • Glass Bottles and Jars (caps off)
  • Drink Boxes (no pouches)

Trash

  • Plastic bags
  • Foam Products
  • Aluminum Foil or Pans
  • Shredded Paper
  • Plastic Eating Utensils or Straws
  • Paper Towels or Napkins
  • Coat Hangers
  • Light Bulbs
  • Needles

Start Small to Make a Big Difference

While it can be hard to imagine that your small everyday choices can impact recycling on a global scale. Every single effort counts. Not everyone has the reach to influence other nations. But you can always influence your thinking and that of those around you.

Take note of the reasons why recycling is difficult, and then join us in the fight to make it easier.

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Amanda
GR8NESS Writer
Amanda is a GR8NESS contributing writer who lives in celebration of self care, and endeavors to approach all things with a student mentality. Her love for the study of self-development is rooted in fitness, holistic wellness, and skin care. She is an advocate for mental health; and hopes to connect others to their own way of daring to care.
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