The shaming of Americans to recycle may be another scam by the pious peeps elected to serve the masses. The good people washing beer bottles and dropping them off at recycling centers may have been hoodwinked by local and state governments, a revelation that shatters the perception of saving the environment one landfill at a time.
One such case is in the elite east coast of Baltimore County, Maryland. For an amazing seven years of secret-keeping, pickle, preserves, and Grey Poupon jars placed dutifully in blue bins by the reutilizing faithful, are being junked instead.
After years of indoctrination to recycle and increased programs making it easier to turn in refuse for reuse, why would Baltimore County continue the ruse of recycling glass?
According to Robert Weisenburger Lipetz, executive director of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC), “Glass is 100% recyclable. It has an unlimited life and can be melted and recycled endlessly to make new glass products with no loss in quality.”
Baltimore County spokesperson, Sean Naron, blames the lack of recycling on the simple fact that “it’s difficult,” and points to the process called single streaming, a system where residents dump all possible recyclable waste in one container, which increases the “presence of shredded paper in recycling streams which contaminates materials.”
Contamination from single streaming is the problem. But through a pop-bottle glass gaze, an additional problem that the county now faces has appeared: a shiny, new, $23 million single-stream recycling facility the county built through tax-payer dollars in 2013. Coincidently, the same year officials decided to break the glass component out of the program.
Naron continued his explanation of his county’s actions by invoking the all-too-familiar response, that the whole country isn’t recycling glass and oh, yeah, the previous administration is at fault.
“Baltimore County, like most jurisdictions across the state—and across the country—cannot currently recycle glass at municipal facilities due to technical and financial limitations.”
And then he asked that folks keep on doing the right thing by salvaging the glass out of the trash and placing into the recycling bins for county officials to put back into the general refuse cans. Genius.
Perhaps the main reason reprocessing glass has been quashed is that there is currently no market for it and overall recycling rates have plummeted. What used to end up back on the dining room table ten years ago is now in your local landfill. One cannot overlook the fact that those products now are worth a quarter of the price they commanded just a decade ago.
Experts like Weisenburger Lipetz call the phenomena “aspirational” recycling, or “wishcycling,” and then lay the whammy down: It’s a trend of good intentions coupled with lack of education – and everyone is paying for those decisions now.
The juggernaut of waste and recycle industries, Waste Management, takes the heart out of saving the planet. Michael Taylor, director of recycling operations, dashes the hopes that all that extra rinsing and separating is paying off: “People are thinking they’re doing the right thing. Our message is, when in doubt, throw it out.”
Waste Management’s Elkridge facility in Maryland reports that one of every six tons of recycling items ends up bundled in bales. Cardboard boxes are wanted – excluding the greasy, cheesy pizza box from the local parlor. Plastic containers do well, provided there isn’t have half-a-jar of jelly left inside, and paper is still the best seller – unless it was mixed in with glass – then both assets are simply trash.
For now, recyclers must cling to the hope that Baltimore County will devise a plan, find a buyer, and put their $23 million facility to work.
Read more from Sarah Cowgill.