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In our quest to always do the “right thing,” we often find ourselves seeking ways to feel good about our actions and ourselves. A lot of times doing the “right thing” becomes more about ourselves than anything else. We saw that happen during the COVID fiasco with masks, thanks to left-wing Fauci zealots. Many liberals felt so much better about themselves because they were wearing a mask, but in reality it didn’t help and it many studies show it actually made things a lot worse. The same is true with certain aspects of recycling.
Recycling has been hailed as a solution that allows us to feel great about ourselves because we believe we’re doing something good for the planet. And indeed, in many cases, we are. However, as we delve deeper into the world of recycling, particularly when it comes to plastic, experts have discovered some facts that don’t feel so good. A recent study suggests that instead of alleviating the world’s staggering plastic waste problem, recycling has actually made it worse by creating a horrific environmental issue: microplastic pollution.
A recent peer-reviewed study that focused on a recycling facility in the United Kingdom suggests that anywhere between 6 to 13 percent of the plastic processed could end up being released into water or the air as microplastics — ubiquitous tiny particles smaller than five millimeters that have been found everywhere from Antarctic snow to inside human bodies.
“This is such a big gap that nobody’s even considered, let alone actually really researched,” said Erina Brown, a plastics scientist who led the research while at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
The study was small; it only took place at one plastic facility, but even so, experts warn that everyone should take the results very seriously.
The research adds to growing concerns that recycling isn’t as effective of a solution for the plastic pollution problem as many might think. Only a fraction of the plastic produced gets recycled: About 9 percent worldwide and about 5 to 6 percent in the United States, according to some recent estimates.
“It’s a very credible study,” said Judith Enck, a former senior Environmental Protection Agency official under President Barack Obama who now heads the Beyond Plastics advocacy organization. She was not involved in the research. “It’s only one facility, but it raises troubling issues, and it should inspire environmental regulatory agencies to replicate the study at other plastic recycling facilities.”
Plastics have become an integral part of our daily lives, but their recycling journey is an absolute environmental disaster.
While there are many different types of plastic, many experts say only things made out of No. 1 and 2 are really recycled effectively in the United States. At recycling facilities, plastic waste is generally sorted, cleaned, chopped up or shredded into bits, melted down and remolded.
It’s unsurprising that this process could produce microplastics, Enck said. “The way plastic recycling facilities operate, there’s a lot of mechanical friction and abrasion,” she said.
Brown and other researchers analyzed the bits of plastic found in the wastewater generated by the unnamed facility. They estimated it could produce up to 6.5 million pounds of microplastic per year, or about 13 percent of the mass of the total amount of plastic the facility receives annually.
According to Brown, during their investigation, the researchers discovered significant levels of microplastic in the air within the facility. The question now is, will filters work?
Even with the use of filters at the plant, the researchers estimated that there were up to 75 billion plastic particles per meter cubed in the facility’s wastewater. A majority of the microscopic pieces were smaller than 10 micrometers, about the diameter of a human red blood cell, with more than 80 percent below five micrometers, Brown said.
She noted that the recycling facility studied was “relatively state-of-the-art” and had elected to install filtration. “It’s really important to consider that so many facilities worldwide might not have any filtration,” she said. “They might have some, but it’s not regulated at all.”
Experts agree that we can’t filter our way out of this mess. The bottom line is this: plastic recycling plants have emerged as one of the main culprits behind plastic pollution. This sheds light on yet another example of hastily implemented policies associated with left-wing ideologies that go off the rails. Much like useless COVID mask-wearing, the left’s eagerness to assert their righteousness and feel morally superior blinds them to the bigger picture and facts become an inconvenient truth that ruin the warm and fuzzy emotions they seek. The left loves to impose actions to ease their own guilt and boost their self-image, and these actions often fail because they don’t do enough research.
Rest assured, the ever-resourceful left will swoop in to “fix” this colossal mess with their unmatched talent for swiftly implementing more untested ideas. Who knows what they’ll come up with to “solve” this problem.