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We need to open our eyes to the reality of how much plastic ends up in landfill, but perhaps even more importantly, we must reframe the idea of recycling. When it comes to plastic, it is not a solution – it’s the last resort.
Recycling is not something that governments or charities do out of the goodness of their hearts – it’s an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars globally. A drop in oil prices or a shift in environmental policy in China has the power to render recycling plastic much less profitable for the companies doing it, often making it not worth their while at all. As a result, 70 per cent of potentially recyclable plastic in Europe ends up in landfill, in oceans or are incinerated, leading to the release of devastatingly harmful toxins into the environment.