We are often told to recycle whenever it is possible, and it is true every little helps. However, when the world’s largest corporations are failing in their own recycling efforts, it puts a screeching break on the goals of individuals. And that takes us to the Indian city of Muzaffarnagar, 80 miles outside New Dehli, where tons of Amazon packages are sitting in an illegal dump.
What is more amazing is that Amazon packages originate on another continent, 7,000 miles away in the United States. How and why are the obvious questions.
Well, an investigation from Bloomberg sheds light on this remarkable story that showcases a failure in recycling. In the mounds of trash that line the streets are packages from Costco and Purina dog food. However, the most alarming is the glut of Amazon.com packages that are thrown out by consumers in North America.
Bloomberg’s K Oanh Ha describes how these packages are each marked for being recyclable, even plastic packages. So, how does packaging that enters the recycling ecosystem in North America end up on the floor in India?
Bloomberg Green explains how the trail leads from waste companies in the US who sell their lowest-value recycling. Interestingly, the trach directly comes from consumers, but it isn’t their fault. Consumers put their faith in the recycling system and believe the trach they throw out is being recycled.
“It’s a system that’s supposed to cut pollution, spare landfills and give valuable materials a second life. But in Muzaffarnagar the failures are hard to miss. The region’s other major industry is paper production, with more than 30 mills dotted among the furnaces for making jaggery. Paper factories in India often rely on imported waste paper, which is cheaper than wood pulp. The nation’s paper makers need to import around 6 million tons annually to meet demand, and most of it comes from North America.
“This could be a recycling success story — were it not for all the plastic that comes mixed into all the waste paper. Exported paper recycling typically includes loose sheets from offices, old magazines and junk mail. But the bales are frequently contaminated with all kinds of plastic that consumers have tossed into their recycling bins, including the flimsy wrapping that holds water bottles together in a pack, soft food packaging and shipping envelopes.”
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