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The Violent Afterlife of a Recycled Plastic Bottle

December 5, 2015

What happens after you toss it into the bin?

Most of us do not think much about recycling. We might clean bottles and jars, crush cartons and break down boxes. We might sort these items into their designated bins or bags, but once we lose sight of the recyclables, the rest of the process is an abstraction. Recycling makes us feel good, but few of us know what actually happens to a plastic bottle after we drop it into a bin.

What happens is the bottle enters an elaborate global system within which its plastic is sold, shipped, melted, resold, and shipped again—sometimes zigzagging the globe before becoming a carpet, clothing, or repeating life as a bottle. This process is possible because plastic is a stubborn substance, which resists decomposition. With a presumed life span of over 500 years, it’s safe to say that every plastic bottle you have used exists somewhere on this planet, in some form or another.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.citylab.com

See on Scoop.itSustainable Futures

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