When I talk to people about our Zero Waste approach, many of them answer me “I do recycle!”… In itself, it is true that it is better than someone who makes no effort, but in reality, it is not enough because it is a “false” solution.
“True” recycling means that a waste becomes its original material again and intact. Thus, a glass bottle can be remelted into a bottle that you will not distinguish from the original material. The same goes for metal. You can repeat this process many many times without compromising the quality of use of the final product. The loop is closed – it is indeed recycling.
Unfortunately for plastic, this process does not work. The “recycled” plastics are transformed into lower quality plastic objects. Once this transformation is done, they become unsuitable for further recycling because they will have been weakened, degraded, loaded with additives and contaminants. At the end of their second life, these plastics will end up in landfills (or in our oceans…) or will be incinerated, producing micro/nano plastic waste and other toxic residues that pollute our environment.
Hoping to be able to recycle 100% is an illusion. But alternatives to the use of plastic exist, such as bulk, or favouring the use of truly biodegradable materials (such as wood, paper, cardboard) or truly recyclable materials (such as glass and metal).
So keep in mind that recycling is good (when you sort properly) but it’s even better if you don’t have anything to recycle because the best waste is the one you don’t produce 😉