Companies influence on recycling

The rise of plastic in the economy


“Big belly solar trash contractor and recycling bin at state/Rudolph” by Zolk, Courtesy of Creative Commons

Gabrielle Friedman, Writer

As recycling is becoming more encouraged around the USA, it is common to see shops and restaurants adding more ecologically safe packaging and ways to recycle into their business. With the change of materials, the discovery of how companies decide whether or not to go green can have both positive and negative associations to the environment.

Some Companies and Industries have incorporated plant-based material into their packaging instead of using polyester foam and some forms of plastic, which are both not able to go through with the recycling process. Many forms of plastic end up in oceans and landfills without the chance to be reused, based on the type of plastic it is. “We all knew there was a rapid and extreme increase in plastic production from 1950 until now, but actually quantifying the cumulative number for all plastic ever made was quite shocking,” says Jenna Jambeck, a University of Georgia environmental engineer who specializes in studying plastic waste in the oceans.

Knowing how to put cans and paper and plastic into a recycling bin has been taught to most people since childhood, and doing so can help our ecosystem drastically. While some stores usually have a recycling bin, sometimes it is difficult to know if the store or restaurant recycles the waste themselves after you leave or if they do not have a recycling bin at all. Madelyn Evans, a student at Battlefield high school, says, “I don’t think there are enough places to recycle things because when I go out to eat I  always see a trash can but never a recycling bin.” Perhaps if there were more opportunities for recycling material, there would be a higher recycling rate.

Many companies have found loopholes into recycling, like promising that many of their products are made from recyclable material, which can be true, but the real matter of fact is if the material can actually be processed into recycled matter. Paper cups are usually marketed as recyclable, but the rim of the cup makes it difficult for the cup to be processed, so the cup will eventually be discarded instead of reused. 

Some restaurants and companies choose not to use recyclable material. Plastic and styrofoam are cheaper to make and purchase then eco-friendly products, which can be difficult for small businesses and restaurants to purchase. Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management,  says, “We’ll let our customers make that decision if they’d like to pay more and continue to recycle or to pay less and have it go to landfill.” Since eco-friendly products require more money, fewer companies are able to afford them. 

More companies around the USA are supporting recyclable material and are influencing the impact of plastic in oceans and landfills. While eco-friendly products are at a higher price range then non-recyclable material, many stores are making a change with what products they use to better the environment. With more companies benefiting the overall plastic usage, there could likely be a change in how many plastic bottles you see in the environment.