Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Plastics in 2018: Should I save or should I throw?

Wayne DeFeo breaks down your recycling vs. garbage questions in a video interview below with The North Jersey Record’s Environmental Reporter Scott Fallon.

By Frank Brill, Editor, EnviroPolitics 

How did it get so complicated?

Years ago, a limited amount of milk began appearing on grocers’ shelves in gallon-size plastic jugs. Then, soda and peanut butter and jelly followed. Then all product heck broke loose.

Seemingly overnight, plastics conquered the grocery shelves without firing a shot. Every consumer who ever suffered the anguishing moment when a glass bottle of ketchup or maple syrup slipped through their grasp can recall the exact moment that they moved to plastic. Cleanup in Aisle 4! 

I remember that I feared that good old Coke might not taste the same when poured from a plastic bottle. But, when I discovered the weight differential in my shopping bag, I figured I'd get used to it.

Still, it didn't seem quite right, eating or drinking from a plastic container.  But, just as quickly, didn't our liberal quibbles fade when we learned that those plastic milk jugs and plastic soda bottles were good for the environment?

Yes, they could be recycled into brand new milk cartons and soda bottles, the ones that, empty, whistled past the landfill on their way to the local collection station, not only saving disposal costs but returning nifty sums to local recycling programs.

Ah, those were the days. Now we are learning the too-good-of-a-good-thing lesson. Product manufacturers who loved the weight-savings in transporting these lighter products (and additional savings from less breakage) started to experiment with newer types of plastic that the boys and girls were cooking up in the chemistry lab. Plastics for wrapping, preserving and displaying their products.

Like I said, now it's complicated. Today, we are awash in plastics of multi-chemical denominations. Some are recyclable, many not. Too many, non-biodegrading, are showing up as troublesome particles in streams, rivers, oceans, and fish. 

Are plastics good or evil?   

We think we know where whales would weigh in on that one. For today, however, let's just focus on what plastics you should place or throw (remember, they don't break) into your recycling container.

Environmental reporter Scott Fallon of The North Jersey Record made it easy for us by conducting a video interview with recycling expert Wayne DeFeo, a longtime, member of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) and president of DeFeo Associates. (Disclaimer: Wayne is a friend of mine. ANJR is a client of our sister organization, Brill Public Affairs).

Take it away, Scott and Wayne!

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