Greenpeace: ”Recycling is Futile” (news)

Reality of Recycling Comes To Forefront As Environmental Concerns Peak 

Nonprofit Greenpeace has released a new report acknowledging the gross inefficiencies and near futility of recycling, as reported by Grist. The report highlights that even while the use of plastics across the world surges, the amount of plastic that gets recycled has decreased, a symptom of a solution no match for the scale of a problem it hopes to address. Greenpeace states that “U.S. households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, only 2.4 million tons of which was recycled.” Because of the complexities of sorting, the chemical hazards of the process, and the use of low-grade plastics, the U.S.’s recycling infrastructure is abysmally short of where it needs to be to reduce plastic waste. This report comes as the United Nations-sponsored COP27 climate summit commences in Egypt, where U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has warned the world is on a “highway to climate hell,” set against a backdrop of war and economic crises.


Rough Transcript

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[00:00:00] This week on the nonprofit news feed, we are bringing news from the week of November 7th, talking about kind of the truth behind recycling. And as COP 27 is going on as we speak, this is definitely, uh, a timely time to be thinking about what this actually means for recycling. Uh, Nick, how’s. It’s going good, George.

[00:00:49] It’s a Bombi. 77 degrees on this lovely November day here. No problem. City. No problems here. , No problems here. Which actually feeds into our first story we’re gonna be talking about. The environment. And you alluded to this in the intro, but nonprofit green piece has at least a new report that acknowledges that the gross inefficiencies of recycling make the endeavor nearly futile.

[00:01:17] For combating plastic pollution. So Greenpeace released this new report. It was reported out by the, uh, environmental and science reporting out like crisp. And the report highlights that even when the use of plastics across the world surges, the amount of plastic that’s getting recycled has decreased.

[00:01:38] And this is a symptom of a solution that really. No way to scale up. It turns out that US households generated an estimated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, and only 2.4 out of 51 million tons were recycled. And the reason for this is sorting is really complicated. There’s lots of chemical hazards, and by the time the plastic gets downgraded, there’s, it has to do with the grade of the plastics and it’s just woefully inefficient.

[00:02:11] And the, the, the report actually highlights the need for different approaches to minimizing plastic waste, like, uh, reusable containers and, and that sort of thing. Kind of a, a grim outlook, but something we maybe need to think seriously about. And the report also goes into, Greenwashing potentially of the usefulness of recycling.

[00:02:33] You know, adding those green arrow, circular little things on, on, uh, products don’t act. It doesn’t actually mean what you think it means. And this does come. In the backdrop of COP 27, which not related to plastic specifically, but is the annual United Nations Sponsored Climate Summit, in which the UN Secretary General Antonio Guts has worn the world as on a highway to climate health set against a backdrop of war in economic crises.

[00:03:03] And we don’t do this, I think, to shock our listeners or to panic our listeners, I think it’s important, George, that we know the scale of the problems we’re up against. I think it’s amazing that green peace is coming out this strongly. With this, and also I think from the marketing angle, companies that produce this plastic, obviously we were pushing this like, shame, shame, shame on consumers.

[00:03:30] Look at them, they, you know, they’re only recycling five to 10%. Oh, look, they don’t understand the p e t ratings of one to three in terms of these recycling arrows that we put out here. It’s all their fault. Here’s the truth. Companies are making a. Off of inexpensive packaging and deferring the responsibility to the consumer without even, and also mind you, not just the consumer, but municipalities that then have to have wildly expensive and intelligent recycling processing plants so that they can, uh, you know, never upcycle plastic, but at least recycle plastic back down to it.

[00:04:11] Mind you, they made margin on that sale. What’s. They can put that smiley greenwashed marketing logo of the chasing arrows that go around in a circle as though this is totally recyclable, totally healthy for the planet. Look at us. We’re using the right materials. No, you’re not. You’re using the right branding materials.

[00:04:34] There’s a fundamental truth that I think has to be washed out of this generation of, as you mentioned, cause washing. Of impact washing of marketing narratives versus what is actually happening on the ground. Hold up that mirror. I think this is great. I think there are other pockets of marketing trumping science in many places, and I think it’s important to note that doing what we have done, But at a larger scale is simply going to break more things and pushing the responsibility of the true cost of materials and consumerism back to the companies.

[00:05:18] Yeah. George, I, I, I totally agree. That’s a, a good kind of perspective to have a problem that. We haven’t figured out how to solve yet. And when economics come into play and, and companies and all sorts of different stakeholders, it becomes a much more complicated problem than I think the overwhelming majority of us are in the loop on.

[00:05:41] All right. Shall I take us into our next story? Yeah. What do we got here? Right. So this is something of a follow up, but we’re gonna take a different tack on this. This comes from, and the title of this story is with Twitter in Chaos. Macon is on fire, and I don’t necessarily think it’s helpful to dive into the Twitter drama right now, of which there is a lot because that is still in developing.

[00:06:10] A developing news story with a unclear end. But we wanted to talk about this new platform, Mastodon, which is a decentralized, non-profit run social media platform that has seen a surge and users migrating to it. Sun since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter. It report, I think a 400,000 user increase over the past, uh, couple weeks.

[00:06:36] And it’s kind of interesting, it seems that I don’t, I haven’t been on it yet, but it seems that you have, uh, different servers if you will, that kind of give you different experiences and different types of content, and it’s designed to be kind of decentralized and give you the experience, uh, you want on those platforms.

[00:06:55] George, this is kind of a, an interesting social media take and maybe a nonprofit model. Is, is this the future of social media? I, I’m not calling any sort of. Future one way or the other. But Macon’s been around for quite some time, I’ll say easily over a decade. I believe I’ve looked at it before. In terms of a building platform, it’s very interesting and also interesting to note is run by a nonprofit and so I, I do believe there will be a social layer of communication that will necessarily.

[00:07:28] Be run by a non-profit or one that is not beholden to stakeholders or not trying to productize its users, but rather is for the social common good. And so, you know, Macon is one option. The fundamental, I won’t say problem. The underlying tech there allows you to create private servers, private local networks, and essentially, you know, niche groups on top of niche groups.

[00:07:54] Think of Slack in that sense of I can join different Slack groups, I can join my company Slack, I can join my, you know, fill in the blank motivational network, Slack. Uh, but it is pockets of isolation and. I think you’re going to have that. It’s already proliferating on platforms like Discord, where you’ve got independent individual rooms being run that’s slightly more centralized.

[00:08:18] There still, I think, is a place for the public commons that that large shouting room, but place where information, conversation news can be disseminated. And I think it needs to become vastly. But you know, nonprofits like Macon ha have a role to play and it’s also interesting tech, uh, to check out as you are considering your, your social media strategies.

[00:08:45] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, 400 thousands, no joke. And it seems to me that the people who are speaking loudly about it are people who are speaking loudly on Twitter and. Maybe a little bit of social media influence. So definitely something to keep an eye on. All right, George. Our next story is, uh, , Kinda an interesting one.

[00:09:06] Ashton Kucher, the celebrity, uh, ran in the New York City Marathon and he ran to raise money for his charity. The charity is called.

[00:09:18] Thorn and Thorn works to combat the sexual exploitation of children, uh, both online and offline. And, uh, a great organization. Uh, Ashton Kucher actually co-founded. This organization and this something that he spent a lot of time working on and ran in the New York City Marathon, which was yesterday in support of this cause.

[00:09:43] And a little bit of a, a kind of fun fact as I actually saw. Mr. Kucher running in the marathon. He had had a good pace. I could see his splits and his times, uh, getting cheered on by a lot of fans. I did not expect, uh, to see him until he was directly in front of me. But anyway, uh, celebrity, uh, walk in the walk or running the run here when it comes to helping, uh, really important if not serious causes.

[00:10:10] Yeah, it’s also just, you know, I love the New York City Marathon. Uh, I did run it, get to run it one time. It’s an incredible event. Motivating, I think just 50,000 people in this, in this last running, which is amazing, but also maybe equally as, uh, amazing in 2021, according to news reports from abc.

[00:10:32] Marathon. Last year, the charity partner program raised 47.8 million, so it’s pretty impressive when you get into the, uh, peer-to-peer fundraising power of, of this event and is an incredible model of how, you know, the New York City Marathon also, by the way, run by NY rcc, New York Road Runner Club, which is an also a nonprofit, is in effect raising money for other organizations.

[00:11:01] And I, uh, you know, special time of year. Absolutely. It’s like a holiday in New York City. It truly is. It is. It was special to be a part of. Amazing to hear about the impact that it has for nonprofits.

[00:11:14] All right, our next story comes from cnbc, and this is about election officials facing the armed militia presence at some poles. So it doesn’t get much more complicated than that other than some armed militia groups. Uh, seemingly our right ones appear to be showing up at polling locations looking all intimidating in military regalia, some with guns.

[00:11:40] It seems that a judge has ordered that they can’t be ex distance from poles or drop boxes or whatever. This isn’t. This seems like a problem and maybe it’s less of a problem and the media makes it out to be, I don’t know how many instances of this happening there are. It seems like it is somewhat isolated, but, uh, not great.

[00:12:01] Yeah. They’re being required to stay with, uh, at least 75 feet away from drop boxes. Not far enough in my, uh, in my opinion at all. You know, you should have to stand as far as a bullet can fly away. If you’ve been given deadly arms and weapons and are allowed to walk around with them, that’s how far away you should stay.

[00:12:21] If we’re talking about safety, I don’t think 75 feet cuts it. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Look, I, I’m. I am praying to whatever it is I believe in at this point for the protection of, uh, voters and voting officials and voting volunteers that are working tire tirelessly right now across the country. Uh, I’m hoping that, you know, the, the window of certification and validation of votes isn’t overrun with frankly.

[00:12:52] Misinformation, disinformation pushed onto platforms that we just discussed. And these are very, uh, these are high danger periods of time, uh, for, uh, for the country, for the voting systems and nonprofits are intimately involved, uh, on the ground and in that way for voter engagement. I was lucky enough to talk with the voter engagement project on our, if you’re listening to this podcast, Our last week’s conversation and with the voter empowerment project, the larger view of how you support these CBOs, community based organizations, CBOs, working.

[00:13:30] Uh, year round, not just one and done, but year round on what it really looks like to, to build the democratic voting muscle, the access to the voice in our political process. And I think it’s, you know, I signed up, I haven’t been called in yet, but I, I signed up cuz I was, you know, of firm belief that, you know, this happens every two years, but the work should be ongoing and so, Pat on the back.

[00:14:00] Bravo. Well done. Thank you to everyone, uh, working to make voting safe and accessible right now in our country.

[00:14:07] George, that’s really well said and I won’t try to add any more to that and I totally agree. Alrighty. Do you feel good? Do I have a feel good? Uh, yes. This comes from your . And it is, uh, Arlington, Massachusetts, I might add. But this is about a 200 foot sub. To benefit a food rescue nonprofit, So , the title of this is The Bendable Delicatessen in Arlington Heights, a Dinos is flaming to build what the owner says will be New England’s largest sub, a 200 foot Italian sandwich.

[00:14:50] Apparently it contains $2,500 worth of donated ingredients. It is going to teachers and the school district and proceeds from. This sandwich are going to benefit a, uh, food waste and redistribution nonprofit called Food Link. The event is sent for 10:00 AM tomorrow at Pierce Fields behind Arlington High School in Arlington, Massachusetts, and uh, it’s going to be the largest sub in Massachusetts, which is cool.

[00:15:22] George, what do you call, What do you call a sandwich that’s 200 feet long? This is a regional. Uh, I don’t know. A hokey or like a hokey. Where, Where’s that? That’s that Philly talking. Yeah. I, I don’t know. I just don’t understand what 75 pounds of salami and 30 pounds of provolone turns into. Uh, I think this is a great marketing activity, right?

[00:15:50] Like, Here’s when you get into, cause marketing, cause partnerships with companies. You’re like, great, build a great sandwich, charge a thing. They get a lot of exposure and news coverage, right? Like look, they’re, they’re obviously donating the time. They have like $2,500 of ingredients here, but it’s $2,500 in marketing.

[00:16:10] We’re talking about it. The, the venerable your is talking about it. It’s gonna be a good event, but they’re gonna be raising awareness, uh, for food insecurity. I couldn’t think of a funny pun for a 200 foot sub though.

[00:16:25] Yeah, I do. However, have a question for you, Nick. Oh, no. Yeah. Why, uh, why did the SpaceX money from ours matching corporate gift program fail?

[00:16:39] Why did their matching gift program. Wrong atmosphere. Wrong atmosphere, Nick. Ah, wrong atmosphere. It’s all about, it’s all about the vibes, huh? In this case, the atmosphere. Well, yeah. Yeah. Uh, well, you made it to the end of the podcast. Congratulations. Please leave us a rating review and don’t forget to vote.

[00:17:01] See you out there. Thanks, Nick. Thanks, George.