Is It Worth Still Recycling Plastic or Is It Worse Than We Thought?

Druce Chandler, Writer

     In this world today, plastic is almost everywhere from plastic bottles to traffic cones and hairbrushes. Despite that, it is hard to believe that the plastic for the items is made out of coal, natural gas, crude oil, and cellulose. In addition, some of those items may not be good for the environment, but it is more of the burning, littering and recycling of certain plastics that are bad. For example, plastic takes a long time to decompose and can leach toxic chemicals into the soil and water, according to The Environmental Defence center. Also, another side effect of littering is animals can get tangled in plastic or they can choke on it. Next, some plastic is burned for the point of molding the plastic into new shapes and sizes or to make toys and other items. Furthermore, everything may come at a price, because dangerous chemicals can be released when melted or burned that can hurt the immune system.

     For three decades, until July 2017, all of our plastic waste went to China for a cheap price to be sold and reused according to At the time, China only accepted our plastic and other materials just to make money in order to survive as a country. In my opinion, I feel bad for not knowing that all of our recycling went to China, as all of our recycling was shipped it was just left there in big heaps, just for the Chinese people to separate. It also gets even worse as China has to deal with its own recycling too. Fun fact, according to National Republic Radio, United States some of the recycling was actually trash as the US used to ship seven million tons of plastic trash each year. I also did find out that some of the items were burnt, destroyed and molded into other things. As you can tell, burning plastic or other waste materials are harmful to the atmosphere and humans as it can create harmful gases that can hurt your immune systems or cause greenhouse gases. However, it all ended with China being fed up with the process of taking our recycling and trash because it was hurting the population of China.

     Honestly, it gets even worse than smaller Asian countries such as Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam were suffering what China leaves behind from our plastic waste. Of course, it was no better of a situation as they eventually felt the same way China did. Now those smaller Asian countries are sending it back to the United States,(mainly around the California ports) for us to feel how the Asians did when they sorted the plastic waste. After the shock of the big amounts of recycling coming back to us, Americans are left with the predicament of sorting it better from trash to recycling and selling it, according to We could have made this madness from plastic waste ease a bit if we use more reusable bottles and reusable containers. 

     Last but not least, here are ways to make recycling easier, Make sure to watch out for labels on the box or container because it may contain the recycling symbol. The next thing that could help is to make sure to be cautious about what plastic is being thrown into the trash and into the recycling. For example, as some plastics such as a water bottle lids are recyclable but the small rings may be questionable to throw away or recycle. In contrast, the glass could be a good substitute for plastic as it is not made out of coal, natural gas, and crude oil but mainly made out of liquid sand. However, the con is sand is still on the same boat as coal; it is nonrenewable, but it is not as bad as coal and its problems. Therefore, it brings me to this point, as the last way of helping with these problems, just remember to be watchful of what you are recycling and what plastics get recycled because you may never know where it has ended up.