Recycling Hasn’t Slowed the Deluge of Plastic Pouring Into Oceans | Newtown News of Interest |

[Opinion of Marvin Burman, founder of OceanHero, the eco-friendly search engine that provides funding for ocean-bound plastic waste cleanup and recycling infrastructure development. To learn more visit]


The recycling industry is drowning in secrets that put our oceans, and the Earth’s future, at risk. It’s a good time to take a deep dive into three secrets about this green industry’s black underbelly.


We dramatically underestimate how much ocean-bound plastic waste we generate. Research shows recycling hasn’t slowed the deluge of plastic pouring into oceans. That’s partly because only 9% of the plastic produced ever gets recycled. Scientists estimate at least 8 million tons of plastic enters the ocean annually.


You’re Not Actually Recycling


When you toss a plastic bottle into your recycling bin, you may envision it carted off to a shiny factory where an expert team efficiently breaks it down and turns it into something new. But the truth is far from shiny. It’s downright grungy.


Historically, at least half of that plastic you thought you recycled never made it to your local recycling center. It got shipped overseas.


A lack of global plastic waste regulations means plastic dumping in impoverished countries goes unchecked. In places like Manilla, Philippines, some streets literally overflow with plastic. These areas don’t have local infrastructure to manage their own plastic waste problems, let alone imported trash. So, plastic gushes into streams, rivers, and oceans.


It’s outrageous that companies continue to manufacture single-use plastics, dupe the public into thinking it’s easily recyclable, and pass the buck to ocean-adjacent communities that are incapable of dealing with the crisis.


Tackling the problem


Scientists say we must do three things to stem the plastic tide.


  1. Slow ocean-bound waste plastic at the source*.


  1. Incentivize the collection and repurposing of ocean-bound waste plastic.


  1. Help nations develop local recycling infrastructure


As governments drag their feet on developing a comprehensive global solution, individual people wonder how they might help.


*While we work to pick up and repurpose plastic already polluting the earth, it’s vital that we don’t add more to the plastic waste heap. There are simple steps you can take to create small plastic waste reduction wins in your daily life. First, immediately eliminate single-use plastics from your routine. Buy products in sustainable packaging. Increasingly, brands are swapping plastic for paper or glass. When you buy these products, you’re sending a message with your wallet.