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Plastic recycling is a 'myth', Greenpeace study warns

These numbers are sobering: According to the environmental protection organization Greenpeace, the recycling rate of plastic is falling in the USA – while production is increasing.

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Plastic recycling is a 'myth', Greenpeace study warns

These numbers are sobering: According to the environmental protection organization Greenpeace, the recycling rate of plastic is falling in the USA – while production is increasing.

The circular economy for plastics, which has been widely praised by the industry, is a "myth", according to a report published by Greenpeace USA on Monday. According to the data, US households produced 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, of which only 2.4 million tons were recycled.

After hitting a record 10 percent in 2014, recycling rates are falling, the report says, especially since China stopped accepting Western plastic waste in 2018. The production of new, non-recycled plastic, on the other hand, is increasing rapidly.

The USA is considered to be the largest producer of plastic waste worldwide. A US study from last year based on figures from 2016 came to this shot. At that time, the United States produced around 42 million tons of plastic waste, twice as much as China and more than all of the then 28 EU countries combined.

“Industry groups and large corporations have been pushing for recycling as a solution. In doing so, they absolved themselves of any responsibility,” said Lisa Ramsden, Greenpeace USA campaign manager. Ramsden named the companies Coca-Cola, Pepsi Co, Unilever and Nestlé as the main culprits.

Also, according to Greenpeace USA, only two types of plastic are accepted at the country's 375 recovery facilities: polyethylene terephthalate (PET), commonly used in water and soda bottles, and high-density polyethylene (HDPE), found in things like shampoo bottles and detergent containers find is.

However, the recycling rate of PET and HDPE products was only 20.9 percent and 10.3 percent respectively - both values ​​are slightly lower than the last survey by Greenpeace USA in 2020.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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