Recycling has the image of a clean, happy subject everyone can relate to. That it’s all white paper and clean aluminum cans and plastic bottles tossed neatly into a bright, blue bin. The reality of recycling is a bit different.
Recycling involves trash and food contamination. Recycling involves education and behavior changes. Recycling involves source separation and material recovery. Recycling involves commodity markets and sourcing. And so much more.
The great green wave has washed over the greater American public. People are aware that they should recycle, and many do. However, for most people it stops at the curb. They separate waste streams based on their local regulations and call it good. I’m all for celebrating small successes, so even this basic first step is really fantastic. But I’m ready for the next step: to take the recycling dialogue beyond the blue bin.