GAIA Zero Waste MasterPlan - Page 83



Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) 83
polluters[25] and use just 9%, 3%, and 2%
recycled content in their products, respectively.
[26]
Plastic also degrades as it is recycled,
limiting the number of possible practical
new uses. The same piece of plastic can only
be recycled 2-3 times before it becomes
unusable.[27] The massive task of collecting,
sorting, transporting, and processing plastic
waste falls upon municipalities, a burden that
will only grow if plastic production quadruples
by 2050.
©iStock/Grigorenko
Even with the best available
recycling technology, the
maximum rate of recycling
for the current mix of
plastics produced would be
between 36% and 53%.
Some materials are compatible with recycling.
For example, nearly 75% of all aluminum ever
produced in the U.S. is still in use today.[28]
While recycling is not enough to solve the
plastics crisis, improvements to our recycling
system - universal access, better education
and incentives around sorting, and end market
development for recycled materials - are
necessary. More importantly, policymakers and
advocates must prioritize the implementation
of upstream waste reduction measures to
reduce the volume of waste being created in the
first place, support the development of reuse
systems, and place pressure on producers
to design waste out of their products and
packaging.
25 Break Free From Plastic. (2019). BRANDED
Volume II: Identifying the World’s Top Corporate Plastic
Polluters. https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/
globalbrandauditreport2019/
26 Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2019). The New
Plastics Economy Global Commitment: 2019 Progress
Report. https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/
news/first-annual-new-plastics-economy-globalcommitment-progress-report-published
27 National Geographic Society Newsroom. (2018,
April 4). 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Plastic
(And Recycling). National Geographic. https://blog.
nationalgeographic.org/2018/04/04/7-things-you-didntknow-about-plastic-and-recycling/
28 The Aluminum Association. (2017). Recycling.
https://www.aluminum.org/industries/production/
recycling

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