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2020 recycling update

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Written by: Alexa Stone

Dig Deeper articles share highlights and source links from recent reporting. Topics for this series focus on the environment, workplace wellness, sustainability, and smart technologies.

Curbside program changes

Curbside recycling

An online tool at reports the how China’s several restrictions on scrap imports have impacted each state. After a state is selected from a drop-down list, bulleted items list the curbside program impacts at the county and city level. For many states, further bullets of information describe solutions that have implemented.

Each item in the often-extensive lists includes one or more links to articles on or external news websites.

Bans on single-use plastics

Plastic waste

For more than a decade, China has prohibited retailers from giving away plastic bags. reports that by the end of this year, China will not allow any plastic bag use in their major cities. By 2022, plastic bags will be banned throughout China.

Proposed laws in California would significantly limit single-use plastic while promoting the manufacture of recyclable and compostable plastics. The laws are described in an article at which also notes that 26.8 million tons of plastic went to landfills in 2017. That’s 19.2% of all waste at landfills. Similar U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statistics provide a nationwide perspective. Similar U. S. Environmental Protection Agency statistics document the manufacture of 35.4 million tons of plastics that year.

Should bioplastics be recycled?

Bioplastics Research Center

A recent article discusses advantages and limitations of recycling or composting these five types of bioplastics:

  • Polylactic Acid (PLA) – Made from fermented plant starches, PLA is widely used in drink cups and is described as “compostable in industrial facilities.”
  • Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) – Although significantly more expensive to produce, PHP can be used in plastics that break down to CO2, water, and organic biomass.
  • Polybutylene Succinate (PBS) – A possible replacement for single-use propylene bags, PBS creates its own risks for the environment. Producing the chemical generates significant quantities of greenhouse gases.
  • Hemp – Related to Cannabis sativa but non-intoxicating, hemp has been legal in the U.S. since 2018. Under certain conditions, certain hemp plastics break down into vegetable material.
  • Lignin – A byproduct of paper manufacturing, Lignin can be made into many forms of plastic, and is a low-cost material for 3D printing, adhesives, and can reinforce other bioplastics.

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