Depending on the scenario, change is inspired or forced. Today I’d like to show you how to create change based on a little bit of both. Seems for years we’ve been playing a waiting game on government action regarding single-use plastics. If you want action now, follow the proven path of nations making headway into banning single-use.
You may have noticed the EU and a few other nations ‘discussing” single-use plastic bans, but there are two nations in particular, who stand out in making major progress – Australia and the UK.
Is there a reason that talks about bans are more serious in those nations versus others? Here’s why that has happened and how you can make it happen for your country.
A 4-step blueprint for getting action on single-use plastic!
1. The UK and Australia organized investigations into curbside recycling programs.
As we speak, recycling is in a market crash. This impacts 100’s of 1,000’s of recycling businesses all across the world. Many have shut down or are operating in the red.
Very few countries are educating their citizens correctly on how and why this is happening. Indeed, it is because China has shifted policies that have dramatically reduced demand for recyclable goods globally. If you want to learn the ugly truth about your curbside recycling programs, please read “The BEST Thing China Has Done for Recycling & Ocean Pollution in 30 Years” English Version | French Version
The reason you need an investigation is that otherwise there is no clarity around how we currently manage our landfill waste, which is with recycling.
This confusion about whether it is a market slump or a market crash is not going to be clear unless you launch an investigation.
- In Chicago: The Illinois Environmental Council (IEC) in Chicago is preparing to open an investigation to clearly establish the effectiveness (or inefficiency?) of recycling by asking how much of it is going to landfill.
- In Australia: All single-use plastics should be banned by 2023 Senate inquiry recommends. A national container deposit scheme should be established in response to the recycling crisis
By investigating your countries recycling practices and regulations encourages your government to evaluate the entire process and systems for which recycling is collected and sorted. How it is sold. What happens to it once in Asia, etc….
2. How do you launch an investigation?
An investigation is nothing more than starting an online petition. A few 1,000 consumers saying we agree that we want answers.
The petition can ask something as simple as one question:
Since January 1st, 2018 when China changed it’s recycling import policies, what percentage of collected recycling has been landfilled on a monthly basis versus recycled?
Why ask that question? This question reveals several other questions they will have to disclose:
If as of January 1st, 2018, China no longer is willing to accept your recycling goods – where has it been going?
Is your country obligated to tell you how much recycling they collect from your house versus what goes to landfill?
If even 50% is going to landfill, has the glamorous duo of government and recycling sorting/sales center been over-charging you?
Is there a higher fee to collect goods from homes as recycling versus simply collecting it to go to landfill? If so, at what percentage are you the consumer reimbursed if they are knowingly collecting things even though the market conditions are very clearly not allowing them to get it sold to be recycled? Why are you paying in full for them to do 50% of the job?
What is an acceptable level to the recycling industry to landfill versus what customers expect or agree with?
How much recycling is left after it is collected and the waste is sorted out before exports to Asia?
And, last of all, what amount of collected recycling gets recycled once in China? (This one NO nation has the answer to.)
In most cases, the government has been over-charging you for anywhere from 11 months (all of 2018) to 5 years.
Why 5 years at least?
The final sledgehammer from China about not accepting waste above a .5% contamination rate came down on Jan 1st of this year. China, however, has been warning and getting on exporters to improve the quality or cleanliness of their exports since 2013. That is a five-year window of time – there is simply a point at which “a sales slump” becomes “a market crash.”
When is your recycling company obligated to tell you which percentage of collected recycling that they are landfilling versus exporting?
If you chase down the numbers you the consumer and the government will realize that there is a hefty price difference to simply landfill versus collect it as recycling that ends up in a landfill. In some cases, you are actually discussing a double fee. One fee to collect it and process it as recycling and then the secondary fee to dispose of it at a local landfill.
These numbers are exorbitant.
A lot of money may have been wasted and it’s all thanks to handy strategic reporting methodology. This alone is a huge PR crisis for both municipality and recycling sorting/sales centers.
3. The next primary question to ask in the investigation: “Why is good clean recycling going to landfill versus being sold like usual for processing in Asian and SE Asian countries?”
1,000’s of recycling centers have closed. What they reveal in their letters is that there is no market for these goods.
However, is this true?
Is it because there is no market in China or is it because there is no market for the product that your country is calling acceptably clean recycling exports?
What are the reasons that your nation cannot meet China’s new buying standards?
Is the current method of curbside recycling capable of creating the type of clean waste that China is demanding?
The answer to this question exposes flaws in curbside recycling process design.
These flaws which are inherent in curbside prove that curbside is 100% incapable of reaching clean waste standards by importing nations such as China until the end of time. Why?
When a system such as curbside recycling is based on consumers not being held liable for putting the right things into the bin – you have zero accountability.
And, exactly because consumers are not held liable for putting the right and clean things into the bins, the same thing holds true for recycling sorting/sales centers.
Your government does not hold it’s recycling exporters legally required to remove all the waste before it gets exported to China. Simple.
It’s a system that never was designed to create clean waste exports, yet it was scaled across multiple nations for almost 17 years. Incredible but the thing is we all trusted that our recycling centers were sorting out the waste.
Turns out they didn’t.
Once exported to China what is considered unclean or unprocessable was either thrown into Chinese landfills that were already overflowing and leading to ocean dumping. Or it was sold from China to other third world SE Asian countries for further sorting.
Meanwhile, no Asian nor SE Asian country needs more waste. In fact, Asian and SE Asian nations only manage to successfully collect 40% of their own people’s waste. They use rivers and the oceans for the remaining 60% of waste management needs.
Relying on other countries, be it China or SE Asian countries, who do not have a handle on their waste management for regular everyday waste is not a place to send recycling that holds excess waste that needs further sorting.
Turns out, this entire situation of having to rely on Asian and SE Asian nations to further sort recycling could be completely avoided.
The solution is something called direct deposit.
Direct deposit omits the need to go to people’s home and collect it. It also removes the need to further sort the recycling post collection.
So, not only have you been paying extra to collect and sort waste with 100’s of 1,000’s of hours of human labor, the trucks to pick it up, the gas, the emissions, the centers that then sort all the waste…. if you erased all of that by having direct deposit machines void any dirty products from landing into the bin in the first place. If you reward customers with a few cents for bringing it to a kiosk, the consumer becomes the trash collector and dropper-offer. The gas and emissions will be based on when and how consumers shop at grocery stores. Typically, consumers go once a week at least. They would then bring the recycling in their cars to be recycled when they go to buy more stuff they will then recycle. Turns out that direct deposit is also money that people use to then do their grocery shopping. It is proven to increase business for grocery stores.
Now! Instead what we have been doing by making something much harder than it needed to be with a curbside recycling system – if you have recycled within the last 17 years, this means that you dramatically added to ocean pollution. The reason being? Because you sent recycling that had waste still inside of it and even when your waste was sorted at a said Asian destination, there is no guarantee that what was of no value did not end up being thrown into the ocean just like 60% of the waste that these countries hemorrhage into the oceans every year. They use oceans as their landfill.
Direct deposit creates 100% clean waste ready for export with less cost.
At this point, your government will latch onto direct deposit away from curbside recycling.
But have you got your government where you need them on single-use plastics yet?
4. The third question of this investigation is: “How long has your government been footing the bill for recycling center operations if there is no market for collected recycling goods?”
Given the Chinese are no longer buying since January 1st based on it being too dirty starting just this year.
How many recycling centers are still picking up the stuff despite having no buyer to sell the stuff to, which in turn makes them run into the red.
So first you are being over-charged to process recycling versus simply charging you to landfill it.
On top of all that, curbside recycling has convinced governments to pay the operating costs of said recycling sorting and sales centers that are now in the RED earning negative cash flows in the millions of dollars.
The reason? The curbside recycling claims we are in a market slump – not a market crash.
Turns out, guess why else China is not interested in half-cleaned foreign imports?
Believe it or not, it is because they don’t need our product anymore.
China is deploying a circular economy – a part of this means collecting their own people’s recycling.
They never did that at scale before this year. That’s why they always took foreign waste imports. It seemed easier at the time. And, in fact, setting up recycling processing plants where you would walk out with new bottles is no cheap endeavor. So, for the last 17 years China made it really advantageous for us to sell our stuff (dirty or clean) to ensure that they had enough supply to support the building of recycling plants and operating costs.
But now that China has:
A. Built the world’s most intensive recycling infrastructure for which no country comes close to.
B. Bought and paid for this infrastructure.
C. Now that China has more disposable income – the people consume more and create more waste. Enough waste that it causes their landfills to over-flow. They have to reduce their landfills, so not that is what they are doing. Collecting their own people’s recycling. Which makes sense.
But wait, it’s not only China who is on this path to collecting its own people’s recycling and cutting off imports.
Malaysia is cutting off all foreign waste plastic recycling imports starting in 2020.
Vietnam has increased its contamination acceptance level to 2%. That is 1.5% away from China’s standards that are already pushing your recycling centers into the red as we speak.
If you have nowhere to go with all this dirty OR clean recycling collected through direct deposit – what does that mean?
It means you have no method of reducing your landfills.
That means the entire basis of recycling regardless of it happening via curbside collection or direct deposit is slowly coming to a standstill. Meaning, even if it is clean, it’s not going to get recycled. It is going to land in your landfill. So, how do you effectively reduce landfill waste?
When you tell people to stop recycling, they will look at you like you are crazy.
The truth is that into the future – wery little, if any, collected recycling has anyone to buy it once all Asian and SE Asian nations begin to collect their own recycling.
Most of the processing facilities are on Chinese soil. Your nation, even if it collects clean recycling via direct deposits it not going to be able to process that recycling domestically for at least the next decade or more based on the costs of setting up recycling plants domestically.
Why? Because to create enough processable clean waste that does not rely on a third world nation to sort it, you first have to deploy direct deposit which is a cost and an educational process.
At this point in time, Asian nations and your nation relies on one solution to offset it’s landfill waste.
Those two solutions are collecting recycling or waste burning.
Most nations who relied on Asia to sort and process their recycling – most of us have laws that prevent us from burning too much waste.
Are governments going to reverse these laws?
No, they are not.
And if you have no-where to go with your clean recycling and despite direct deposit the waste has to go to landfill considering market conditions…
You are going to attack landfill waste reduction by eliminating single-use plastics PRONTO.
There you have it: NOW you have your government right where you need them.
By using the failure of curbside recycling programs it forces the government to face the facts and desperately try to cover for systems that grossly contributed to the 5-plastic waste gyres we have in our oceans today.
Second, this investigation reveals the fact that your nation pushed it’s sorting responsibilities onto nations that only had 40% of their waste managed. Why would you trust nor provide more trash to nations who already ocean dump 60% of their waste?
By supplying Asian and SE Asian nations with jobs to sort versus having them collect their own waste for landfill and/or recycling…. that’s why we have 8 million tons of waste going into the ocean every year.
If you take sorting jobs away, you reduce the amount of waste they have to dispose of.
If you take away their supply, they will begin to collect their own recycling. That means less waste going into their non-existent landfills or better put: the ocean.
The cost to ensure that Asia and SE Asia begins development of waste management for it’s remaining 60% of waste is estimated to be at a minimum of $3-$4 trillion dollars.
There is no other means of getting governments to take action until you expose recycling.
This same formula will not only result in implementing direct deposit, but it will also lead governments to take serious actions that will help reduce landfills:
- Implementing single-use reform that blocks any and all unnecessary items from adding to landfill waste.
- Seeing to it that they implement compost collection to reduce landfill waste.
Just imagine….If China, as a communist country, can get its government to disallow foreign waste imports from entering their markets so they can focus on reducing their landfills by collecting their own recycling – then what excuse are you making for your democratic developed nation to ignore this issue?
Action starts with a petition that asks to perform an investigation into your nations curbside recycling programs.
You can see how Australia and the UK went from an investigation into recycling to moving towards direct deposit followed by immediate measures to ban single-use plastics.
Here is a play-by-play from Australia:
- All single-use plastics should be banned by 2023 Senate inquiry recommends. A national container deposit scheme should be established in response to the recycling crisis
- Recycling crisis: why don’t we have a national container deposit scheme? Difficult to coordinate, yes. But it could ameliorate Australia’s waste and recycling woes
Here are some interesting moves by the UK:
- An interesting campaign for Essex, UK Called « Your rubbish, your responsibility. »They say: « Are you contributing to the fly-tipping problem in #Essex without knowing it? Check before handing your waste to someone else, and reduce the chance of it being fly-tipped. Help keep our county clean and green.In Essex, even if you pay someone else to recycle your goods. If the company you paid to recycle it did not and dumped it onto land somewhere or if it somehow ended up in the oceans. Not only will the recycling center be fined, but so will YOU the consumer.
How about them apples?
That’s called getting tough.
We can’t sit around looking at ocean pollution or litter videos and never realize how it got there, we have to get pas this by asking questions. We can stop all of this. Easily.
This is the path to getting results. You won’t get support for banning recycling because people will react negatively, but you can ask to investigate and expose recycling with three simple questions as I outlined.
The truth is, your government is out of options. Waste burning is not a sustainable way to reduce landfill waste. As we all know or don’t know, 1,200 people die a day from waste-burning related cancers in China. That is almost 400,000 people a year. Even if you don’t care nor believe that could happen to you in your nation for whatever reasons – your government will surely realize that if China’s population decreases too much, who is going to make your Nike shoe’s for cheap? That’s not a reason that I would call halt to all of this, but it is something that an investigation of curbside recycling would reveal.
It’s not right that these nations make our Nike shoe’s for cheap. It’s also not right that these nations don’t collect their own waste and are dying because of it. Not to mention, we have killed 700 species of birds and fish by being completely blind to how recycling leads to all of this.
We are all connected. Take action. Launch a petition. Get signatures. Get loud.