In the early 1990s, at a small recycling facility near San Diego, a man named Coy Smith was one of the first to see the industry’s new initiative.
Back then, Smith ran a recycling business. His customers were watching the ads and wanted to recycle plastic. So Smith allowed people to put two plastic items in their bins: soda bottles and milk jugs. He lost money on them, he says, but the aluminum, paper and steel from his regular business helped offset the costs.
But then, one day, almost overnight, his customers started putting all kinds of plastic in their bins.
“The symbols start showing up on the containers,” he explains.
Industry documents from this time show that just a couple of years earlier, starting in 1989, oil and plastics executives began a quiet campaign to lobby almost 40 states to mandate that the symbol appear on all plastic — even if there was no way to economically recycle it.
It is for this reason, when the sorting of plastic is a complicated as ever, that we need to be skeptical when companies like Chevron Phillips say that they will “recycle 100% of the plastic it makes by 2040.”
suggests that what is important is how we actually use plastics in the first place, while the explores the incentives that could be put in place.
via Doug Belshaw