Huge waste management companies and small cities and towns have launched educational campaigns on this issue. Their mantra is “When in doubt, throw it out.” In other words, only place material that truly can be recycled in your bin. This message is challenging for many environmentalists to hear, but it cuts costs for recyclers and local governments.
We also believe it’s important to understand that the global waste crisis wasn’t created by consumers who failed to wash mayonnaise jars or separate out plastic bags. The biggest drivers are global. They include capitalistic reliance on consumption, strong international waste trade incentives, a lack of standardized recycling policies and the devaluation of used resources.
To make further progress, governments and businesses will have to think more about designing products with disposal and reuse in mind, reducing consumption of single-use products and making massive investments in recycling infrastructure.
This opinion article originally appeared in The Conversation.
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