Updated: Mar 22, 2020
So, you may be wondering why go through all the trouble of refilling your skincare bottles when you could just recycle them? Glass and plastic are recyclable right? The truth is actually much more complicated than that and the best way to reduce the amount of personal care items clogging landfills is to reduce the amount that go there in the first place.
While we mean well by tossing our used up beauty containers to the recycling bins, majority of those containers will still end up in a landfill. In fact, only 14% of ‘recyclable’ plastic is actually recycled. So what really happens when you put something in the recycling bin and why isn’t it being recycled?
Most developed countries only process a small amount of recyclable materials like glass and aluminum, which are easily recycled into new materials. Even still, if those glass & aluminum containers are sent off with product or food waste still inside of them or they are mixed in with other contaminated containers they are sorted out and sent to a landfill. As for the plastics, most are shipped off-shore to cheaper recycling facilities in less developed (& regulated) countries countries for processing & recycling, but what happens to the “recyclable waste” once it gets there is where it gets questionable. Many of these countries end up with mountains of trash that get piled up and burned, leaching toxic chemicals into the ground and leftover waste into the rivers. This has been exacerbated since 2018 when China stopped accepting waste from other countries, whereas they used to accept 99% of the world’s exported waste. Since then it’s ended up in other countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, who do not have the infrastructure to handle it all and are forced to pile it up.
Since the rise of plastics in the 1950s we have created over 8.2 billion metric tons of plastic waste and if that trend continues, we will have 12 billion metric tons in landfills by 2050. That's as heavy as 35,000 Empire State Buildings! We've been accumulating plastics faster than we can safely dispose & recycle them for 70 years now, and the effects are getting hard to ignore. Our oceans, rivers, and beaches are clogged with debris. Our forests and jungles are burning. Our ozone layer is thinning and our planet's temperature is rising. The plastic pollution problem is a complicated one that will require big companies and big governments to make serious change, which we at Glotanicals and our community will fight hard for. But, while we can advocate and fight for big change we can also make a big impact with small changes in our routines. If we stand up and refuse single-use plastics in our every day routines we can shift an entire industry. We just have to start today.