By TANYA BESSER and BRIAN MELVINThe Washington Post – Feb 17, 2017 06:04:22As plastic bags are phased out of our citys trash cans, it seems a lot of us are forgetting that we’ve already been recycling plastic for so long.
So why are we doing it again now?
A new survey from the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) says that plastic bags and other reusable items are replacing some plastic trash cans as our largest source of litter.
But not everyone agrees with the findings.
Some people say it’s the trash that has become more recyclable, and that the transition is happening faster than anyone anticipated.
The ACSH survey of more than 5,000 people found that 55 percent of people say they recycle plastic trash, while 32 percent say they do not recycle any type of plastic.
Others say they don’t recycle because they see it as just another trash container.
“People who are interested in sustainability and the environment, they see the problem of plastic being a source of waste,” said Andrea Krieg, an environmental policy analyst with ACSH.
“They don’t want to be doing anything that they think is going to be a waste.
They just want to get rid of it.”
The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents said they do their own recycling.
In addition, more than two-thirds of respondents report having made a decision to reuse their own plastic.
The ACSH study also found a big disconnect between the perceptions of people and the reality of how much waste plastic is contributing to our landfills.
About two-quarters of respondents cited the environmental impacts of plastic as their main reason for recycling.
Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents also said they didn’t recycle plastic because they thought the plastic was simply too big to recycle.
Krieg said the ACSH data also showed that plastic waste is actually a relatively low-cost source of garbage.
According to ACSH, plastic waste accounts for less than 5 percent of landfill waste, and recycling it saves the citys economy $13.6 billion a year.
According to ACH, the study shows that while it’s important to recycle plastic, the benefits of recycling it are outweighed by the environmental impact of plastic waste.
“It’s actually very easy to recycle, but it’s really not that good,” said Krieg.
“We’re going to see people who are doing it who will use plastic bags or other plastic items as the largest source, as opposed to recycling.”
The ACSSH survey found that only 28 percent of Americans recycle plastic at least once a year, while 30 percent don’t bother to recycle at all.
However, Krieg said that the ACSIH survey shows that Americans who recycle are more likely to recycle because of their belief that recycling is an easier way to recycle than the actual environmental impact.