Comstock's magazine 0618 - June 2018 - Page 57

Globally, a mere 9 percent of plastic has been recycled. Compounding the problem: The U.S. can no longer export bales of mixed plastics to China, which had been recycling about half of the world’s plastics and paper prod- ucts until instituting a ban this past Jan. 1. Nations are left scrambling to figure out how to deal with a stockpiling of plastic waste. Murray points to California's PET bottle recycling as proof that the practice can work. “If we’re going to continue to consume these materials, it has to be recycled. We know it can be done because [California has] got a plastic recy- cling success story.” That success stor y involves PET beverage containers. In 2016, Californians successfully recycled 75 percent of the PET bottles they purchased, for a total of 8.6 billion bottles, according to data from CalRecycle, the depart- ment that oversees recycling facilities and landfills. The cost of recycling these PET bottles is less than 1 cent per container, Murray says. But Murray also acknowledges the immense amount of time and effort that success took. “It has been literally three decades in the making to get to that recycling rate, to get the costs of recycling down, to develop the end-use markets, to close the loop.” For Bissell, recycling potentially works ver y well, but it’s only part of the solution and one that could inhibit in- novation — if the sorting equipment is poorly designed, or if consumers don’t know how to modif y their behavior to put different materials in the right spot, the system breaks downs. And he acknowledges the fragile relation- ship between materials and recycling. “As a result, there’s a general resistance to developing new materials in the plastics world,” Bissell says. “It’s not because they don’t want them. It’s because they’re afraid of how it might impact the recycling stream.” Endless Waterways. . n u F e t i n i f In TM It's boating season! Get ready to explore by powerboat, sail or paddlecraft. From the Bay and coastline, to rivers and lakes, to the meandering California Delta, together they offer miles and miles of gorgeous water for boating and adventure. Happy and safe boating - always wear a life jacket! Save the Ones You Love June 2018 | 63