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Saturday, April 4, 2020

With cities rethinking recycling programs, citizens and companies might also want to rethink plastic use

Regulation

By April Bamburg | Feb 25, 2020

Gis volunteer and recycle cans at guantanamo
Wikimedia Commons

Arizona citizens are rethinking how they handle recyclable materials, scaling back programs or eliminating them altogether. 

This started in 2018, when China announced they would no longer take all of the recyclable materials that they’d previously accepted from the United States and other countries.

Instead of continuing to gather all the recyclable materials that residents use, cities are starting to rethink the way they handle these items. 

That’s because although it may be cheaper to just put everything into landfills, it’s not socially acceptable and it’s not good for the environment. In some cities where they still have recycling programs, these items are just piling up with nowhere to go. In July 2019, Pinal Central reported that was exactly what was happening in Casa Grande, and part of the reason why the city had eliminated their curbside recycling pickup.

With cities eliminating their curbside pickup and recycling programs, Arizona residents may also be seeking solutions on what to do with their plastic items. There are things they can do to better understand the options to dispose of recyclable items at the end of their lifecycle, or even consume less (which is an ideal solution), Rajesh Busch told ASU Now. Busch is a senior sustainability scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and Director of the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service.

The first solution that Busch urges citizens to look at is to reduce the amount of plastic and other items that they buy and use, because that, over time, might reduce the amount of stuff that people have to dispose of at all.

Reusing things as much as possible is another key to managing the waste that Arizona residents produce. Getting to know how things are disposed of, how they are recycled and what post-consumer recycled plastic is good for can be an eye opener. But the work isn’t all on the shoulders of the citizens.

Companies should ask for and use more post-consumer recycled plastic, because that would reduce the amount of virgin plastic required. Not only that, but it would make post-consumer recycled plastic more valuable, and put less into the local landfills.

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