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Is recycling worth the effort?

We at retub are big advocates for reuse, obviously for take-away food containers in particular. Whenever possible, we want to choose reusable options over recyclable ones. Why? While recycling has some obvious benefits, there are some major hidden issues with it too including: 

  1. The actual process of recycling is often an energy intensive (as well as usually water intensive) exercise. The recycling process for each type of recycled material varies and with each different process, there is a different amount of water and energy required to do so. This American Plastic Pollution Coalition article explains that to recycle different products, the process will use "a unique (and sometimes hefty) carbon footprint."
  2. A growing number of recycling companies don't actually recycle.  In this ABC news article, it is stated that "key industry insiders... have described an "unsustainable situation" with glass which has "nowhere to go" because there is "no viable market is currently cheaper to import glass bottles than recycle them.". The problem is that, at the moment, it is cheaper in Australia to import glass products than recycle them (see point 1 above). So, there is no economic incentive to recycle certain products. 
  3. Australia can't give all of it's recyclable rubbish to China anymore.  In this Sydney Morning Herald article, it is suggested that Australia may go backwards with its recycling policies now that China has banned importing Australia's paper and plastic waste. The ban puts Australia in a position where it needs to decide "whether to stockpile materials (which poses risks such as fire), send the material to landfill (bad for the environment) or find another country to export it to." Whether or not it was ever an environmentally sound option to simply export recyclable products, it is clear that the current situation is dire. Better solutions are required - and they must come about quickly - if we Australians are to continue to take recycling seriously enough to continue to bother to separate recyclable products from waste intended to go to landfill.  

So, is recycling still worth the effort? YES. It is. Despite there being some real issues with recycling at the moment, it's not all bad news. According to Sustainability Victoria, not all recycled products are sent overseas and there are some recycling and manufacturing companies in Australia making new products from recycling materials.  

The Government is also investing at record levels in programs to develop local markets for products made from recycled materials, facilitate private investment in resource recovery infrastructure, and educate households and businesses about how to better manage waste.

But without a doubt, the BEST solution is to reduce the amount of waste we produce (whether recyclable or not) in the first place.

The easiest way to reduce waste without changing your lifestyle completely, is to use reusable options instead of single-use ones. And that's where retub comes in super handy.

Reduce the amount of take-away food packaging you use and reuse with retub take-away food containers. Buy yours now!

 


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