The Recycled Plastic Dream. Or Is It A Nightmare?

Does all that you dump into the recycle bin get recycled? Only 9% of plastics do, apparently. Are we recycling because we need to save the earth or just to save face? Or will there never be an end to the production of plastic for a whole bigger evil reason?

Here’s a scenario. You have your fill of Coke (or Pepsi, whichever) and you decide to throw the can or plastic bottle onto the nearest trashcan, but (in extreme close-up) a hand reaches out and prevents you from doing so.

It’s your self-appointed saint of recycling friend (your fault for having such friends in the first place), who, like Moses coming back from the flaming bush with his flame retardant beard bellowing, “Thou shalt recycle!”.

The Feel-good Factor

But we like making new commandments from time to time, according to time, place, whims and fancy, and level of bloodthirstiness. Okay, linking to the Gaza genocide may be a wrong comparison. Malaysians are compassionate and empathic toward what’s happening to Gazans. That is, when we are not too busy killing thousands on the road.

But forget vehicular manslaughters; not recycling can inflict guilt faster than skipping diets. It pricks the conscience, which has been fed by too many feel-good WhatsApp messages we are damned with every morning. Recycle, for you have been warned, or (brace yourselves) be a normie.

But fret not, here’s something that your sneering self-appointed angels of environment protection should know, as to how much of those sent for recycling actually gets recycled properly. That’s right; according to a study, 91% of that stuff doesn’t even get recycled in the first place.

That’s because discarded plastic containers are like the beauty pageants of recyclable material—they look good but are mostly useless for anything else.

Most Plastics Recycled End Up Just Some Other Various Versions of Plastic Things
Most plastics recycled end up just some other various versions of plastic things

Plastics, like what the followers of Abrahamic faiths believe, don’t have reincarnations, backed by science nonetheless. This article screams that it is impossible to recycle plastic. You can re-use it at home, but they mostly stand in for more stylish, expensive containers or other 59 ways explored here.

Heavy Metal

On the other hand, in Malaysia, metal is the most sought-after recyclable material. If you see a trash can that looks like another trash can has sexually assaulted it while it was asleep, it means someone has been at it picking up cans and other metal pieces. The culprits are usually hobos, drunks, and hybrids of both.

Yes, metal which is the Heavy Metal of the recycling industry. Recycling metal has been an activity ever since the existence of metal itself. Any metal, preferably shiny, glittery ones. Aluminum cans are especially useful because, well, you can just crumple and throw them and do your basketball practice.

Speaking of which, guess where the aluminium scraps of the world’s favourite destination are to die and reincarnate? Malaysia, of course. According to this report, Malaysia will be the leading overseas destination for aluminium scrap in 2021 “outpacing India (351,000 metric tons), South Korea (221,000), China (200,000), and Mexico (140,000) as the only other nations that have crossed the 100,000 metric tons threshold in the first 10 months.”

from World Bureau of Metal Statistics Showing the Big Business of Aluminium Scraps in Malaysia, No Plastic Shall Apply.
From World Bureau of Metal Statistics showing the big business of aluminium scraps in Malaysia no plastics shall apply <em>Graph courtesy of wwwstatistacom<em>

Yet, the damndest thing is, we are cool with buying canned drinks or anything else metal because we know that no matter where we dump them—in a proper rubbish bin or right in the middle of the road—t here will be desperate hordes of homeless poor, penniless drunks, or employees of metal recycling enterprises scavenging them and getting pocket changes.

This is helped by the fact that the health of the industry that feeds on rust is pretty shiny. Here are the numbers in the graph. Don’t bother analysing; here, take a gander at this:

if Plastics Are Bubble Gum Pop, Metal Is, Well, Soaring Heavy Metal As the Prediction for Metal Scrap Market for Malaysia Shows, According to Ireland Based Research and Markets
If plastics are bubble gum pop metal is well soaring heavy metal as the prediction for metal scrap market for Malaysia shows according to Ireland based <a href=httpHyperlink untuk Researh And Markets httpswwwresearchandmarketscomreports5751231malaysia metal scrap recycling market target= blank rel=noopener title=Research And Markets>Research And Markets<a>

Plastic and Fossil Fuel

Here’s another connection that is going to put plastic back to the mentioned Gaza comparison. Almost all of plastic is made from fossil fuel. An estimate of 12 million barrels of oil are used yearly to make plastic. Which means, oil is still going play a big part in international intrigue, the constant thirst for fuel (despite all the hoo-has about alternative energy sources) that made the middle east the most peace lacking nations in the world.

Hey, the constant war and disturbance of peace especially in that region as long as the rich and powerful are safe, helps to keep the fuel price up and the military industrial complex belly full with cash. What’s “recycle” compared to “vicious cycle”. Renewable energy be damned.

The demand for fuel will keep the plastic production alive and wiggling. Look, between 2011 and 2020, Barclays Bank have lent more than US$3 billion to single use plastic polymer producers (see graph below. Source The Guardian, UK)

We know that banks need to do loans to make money; your personal salary account be damned. The plastic companies have eager beavers dumping money on them.

And you thought by using wet, melting paper straw slurping your iced latte you are going to save the world? – NMH


Also read more articles by the author:

Peace Inwards And Outwards, Within And Without
Hollywood, Politics, Propaganda And Brainwashing
Greenwashing: Consigning Conscience to Consumers

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