National Geographic : 1990 Dec
We'd liketo recycle the thinking 1~-' Ii Before. Contrary to public opinion, plastics are among the easiest materials to recycle. InSouth Carolina, one company is recycling 100 million pounds of used plastic soft drink bottles a year into carpet yarn, flower pots, toys, and fiberfill for ski parkas. InChicago, another company isrecycling 2 million plastic milk jugs a year into "plastic lumber" for decks. InTennessee, another company isrecycling plastic beverage containers into bathtubs and shower stalls. The recycling of plastics israpidly catching on. Recycling istransforming used plastics into a "natural resource" that can be used to produce many new products. Recycling isa critical issue as America grap ples with its growing solid waste problem. Our landfills are filling up. We dispose of 160 million tons of garbage a year. In the past 10 years, our landfills have decreased from about 18,500 to 6,000. Within 5years 2,000 more will close. Intheir haste to find solutions, some policymakers propose to ban plastics. The fact is,according to a recent study, plastics make up about 18% of the volume of solid waste inour landfills; paper and paperboard, about 38%; metals, 14%; glass, 2%; and other wastes, 28%. Ifplastic packaging isbanned, the need for packag ing won't go away The idea isto replace plastic with biodegradable materials. Studies show, however, that degradation is so slow intoday's landfills so as to almost not exist.