I seem to remember a lot of controversy over recycling in the 80s and early 90s, with my local town government insisting it was too expensive. Suddenly everything changed in the late 90s, right around the time that globalization took off, and recycle bins took off everywhere. By the late 2000s everything was moving to "single stream recycling", where you just throw all your trash, cardboard, plastic, etc. in one bin and somehow it'd magically get sorted at the facility. That frankly seemed a little too good to be true to me, but everybody was buying into it.
Suddenly Plastic China comes out, China stops accepting recyclables, and we're back to where we were in the early 90s. What if all the "progress" was just an illusion where companies figured they could brand trash-hauling as recycling for eco-friendly customers, charge more for it, and then dump the trash on an unregulated Chinese buyer who could do whatever they want with it?
At that point I stopped recycling paper plastic and glass since it was clearly absurd and far more resources such as fuel and labor were being expended on this charade than if one were to simply burn their trash in a barrel in the backyard. I'd tell people about what I'd learned but no one believed it.
"Through advertising, the public is constantly deluded into thinking that the quality of life is improved by all the products placed on the market."
I also came across this nice video: The History of Stuff  that describes ncely the current production - consumption model and why it is not sustainable.
It is 20mins long but I found a great educating value to it.
People got caught up in the wave of recycling with the idea that somehow we could actually recycle all these materials with anything approaching reasonable effectiveness. Outside of aluminum, it's basically worthless - and in the cases of recycling paper, it has led to Superfund sites and terrible pollution.
Rainforests are regrowing  as at least America has forced companies to actually care about replanting and not just widespread logging with no consequences, but China doesn't give a shit. It's important to note in the blame game that America has done an incredible amount to reverse CO2 pollution, rampant logging, and reverse other environmentally damaging practices in surprisingly quick fashion over the last two decades, but it hardly matters, since industrial Eastern countries have essentially zero environmental regulations.
I started bringing my own containers when shopping for groceries. Reduce my trash to 4-5 kilo per week.
It's all about owning more and constant economical growth, it has very little to do with social or ecological progress, these might benefit from capitalism from time to tie when their goals are aligned but that's all.
Recycling is like everything else, it's done when it's economically profitable (via state/country funds, tax returns, &c.)
"At the heart of capitalism is a vast and scarcely examined assumption: you are entitled to as great a share of the world’s resources as your money can buy. You can purchase as much land, as much atmospheric space, as many minerals, as much meat and fish as you can afford, regardless of who might be deprived. If you can pay for them, you can own entire mountain ranges and fertile plains. You can burn as much fuel as you like. Every pound or dollar secures a certain right over the world’s natural wealth."
Everything else is considered a failure.
I saw at least one person say back in the 2000s that single stream recycling was basically a lie, but it was worth it to get people into the recycling mindset. This is the same reason many towns still do "recycling" pickup, but then haul all of that straight to the dump. Personally, if it's just not feasible I'd rather they go back to only taking aluminum, steel, and maybe glass than try to pretend that they're actually reusing any of that plastic or paper.
This actually makes sense. The container trade imbalance leaves the U.S. with a large excess of containers (it costs more to return them than for China to make new ones apparently).
I actually just bought a condo on eastern shore of MD. The small town stopped recycling a few years ago to save $800K/yr, and is instead burning the trash in Pennsylvania at a power plant. I wrote the council an email and said I'm willing to pay more to reinstate recycling, and I bet many residents feel the same.
However, I do wonder, even if this hurdle is jumped, if the refuse is actually getting recycled in the end. Ignorance has been my bliss, but maybe it's time for me to stop being ignorant.
In the end, with much effort, America is going to need to adopt the sorting required for multi stream recycling/waste disposal if we want to "clean up our act", until such time a machine is invented where unwanted matter goes in and desired matter (and/or energy) comes out.
https://plastics.americanchemistry.com/Sustainability-Recycl... (Warning, PDF: Gasification of Non-Recycled Plastics From Municipal Solid Waste In the United States)
: Remember all those codes on the bottom of bottles in the 1990s?
I had almost forgotten the story of the Mobro 4000. For days the national press was obsessed with watching it try to find a place to offload.
What's notable is that China is actively and aggressively transitioning.
That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the single-stream version were largely marketing (by weight). WM or whichever company picks out a few things that are valuable enough to separate, then treats the majority as waste.
I never really understood why people could not grasp this basic concept.
Switzerland recycles 93% of all glass bottles(color sorted by consumers) and 83% of all PET bottles. Everything else has to be burned in a plant with minimal emission to recycle energy. PET recycling is financed by a fee of around 2 cents per bottle that every manufacturer has to pay.
This can only really work if the cost of disposal is baked into the goods at sale, and refunded for recycled goods. I suspect it would just end up causing people to use the landfills they have paid for.
Point is, it works. There is no excuse for other countries to do the same.
Cardboard is profitable to recycle domestically...
In front of each worker was a station on the other side of the belt with several chutes for different types of materials. The workers operated in shifts with the belts moving at what felt like an impossible pace. The primary job requirement according to an overseer was not vomiting during a two hour trial run working in front of the belt.
Despite being in central Arizona, the interior was darkened with a confetti of small paper particles hanging in the air and covering every surface in nearly an inch of "dust". The only thing I could liken it to was the ash particulate in the aftermath of a volcano eruption. I wouldn't want to spend any time in there without heavy air filtering, yet I saw many workers operating without even light paper masks.
The experience brought home what the cost was for single stream recycling. Short of automation I have a hard time justifying that human sacrifice even as I continue to recycle out of habit.
Recycling only works with source separation. But how does that work when there are so many types of plastics in use? And worse, stuff made from multiple types of plastics? Often now plus aluminum and paper.
It's a mess.
tosses brake rotors in city recycling pickup bucket
Recycling is hard at the best of times. Unless packaging gets much better at identifying as recyclable it will be a long road ahead (it's the small things, black plastic is hard to identify and get's burned, composite plastics are problematic, like different plastic foil over plastic canister). At least people think about it around here, but it is a very hard problem.
What could possibly go wrong?
tosses brake rotors in city recycling pickup bucket
 Aside from top-end stuff that has a separate bell and rotor, but this is maybe 0.001%, if that.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel-iron_deposits#Economic... - the 'little or no need for drilling and blasting' suggests <20m deep to me. There certainly is iron on the surface, the Pilbara Banded Iron formations can be something like 300m thick or something silly - I'd be surprised if it didn't outcrop. The issue is more which parts are most economic to mine, which is a question of depth vs grade.
It is right about time that Western countries to come to realization that recycling need more smarts and efforts other than making it other people's problem.
This is not just a Western problem. A look at emissions and other pollutants show it is actually far less of an American problem and far more of an Eastern problem.
Things you can actually recycle: Aluminium, iron/steel scrap, and to a lesser extent glass.
Plastic was never recyclable in the sense of "circular economy indefinitely".
Recycling was never an effective way to save resources, compared to its ugly stepsisters "reuse" and "reduce". But they didn't accord with "buy it, use it, bin it".
Consumers have to do their part though. But that is possible. 83% of PET-Bottles in Switzerland get recycled, this is done without any bottle depot. Recycling cost is between 1.9 and 2.3 cents per bottle.
For all other trash, the most environmental friendly way to dispose it is to burn it and use the energy.
Overall, top countries recycle more than 50% of all trash.
I refuse to call them recyclable. The circle isn't closed.
Agree, with one caveat: Very specific plastics can be recycled as well, but it requires source sorting by consumers and industry and that's just not gonna happen.
We seem to agree that the cost of waste disposal is too low. It isn’t capitalists who are setting that price.
Sadly this is a very common misconception with single stream recycling and leads to significant contamination of the recyclable material [see article!].
1. Waste management companies charge less for recycling to incentivize separating trash and because it was profitable to sell.
2. Single-Stream recycling programs still require consumer separation of non-recyclable trash from potentially recyclable material.
It's all about capital investment. It is expensive to develop and buy machines that specialize in sorting massive amounts of trash at a high throughput. Globalization allowed us to export that to places where labor was cheap enough that real humans would actually sift through the stuff.
The thought process is: why make the investment in specialized machines when there's human labor cheap enough to do it by hand, land cheap enough to store it in perpetuity, or environment regs lax enough to openly burn it and all that’s preventing these alternatives is government regulation?
In places where there’s strong faith in government like Europe you see many companies investing the R&D dollars in these machines. They also have strict packaging requirements that limit the number of inputs that these machines can expect to handle.
Here, the EPA and Dept of Interior can change hands every four years to people wholly uninterested in preserving our commons for the next generation. This administration is selling off pieces of National Parks for oil exploration, to name just one of many examples. It’s no wonder no one wants to actually put dollars towards green R&D.
There's big money involved.
Imagine the costs to the packaging industry if it was no longer allowed to create infinite garbage.
I do find it strange that there seems to be zero noticeable social pressure on bottled drink companies to stop using single use plastic bottles.
Plastic water bottles - of any size - have been illegal in NSW, a state of Australia for many years. It has been fantastic.
Governments need to grow a spine and stop taking so much corporate money as bribes, and actually get to work making our world better.
There has been a push from leading supermarkets Coles and Woolworths to ban single use plastic bags, with great success. But that's a private matter, not from the government. Other states have banned them, but not NSW. 
Genuinely interested, if no hard numbers exist anecdotes are fine
In one of the most iconic ads of the twentieth century, a Native American (actually, it was an Italian dressed up as a Native American) canoes through a river strewn with trash. He disembarks and walks along the shore as the passenger in a car driving past throws a bag of litter out the window. As the camera zooms in to a single tear rolling down his cheek, the narrator announces, “People start pollution. People can stop it.”
This 1971 ad, just a year after the first national Earth Day celebration, had a huge impact on a generation awakening to environmental concerns. Children and young adults watched it over and over, shared the faux-Indian’s grief, and vowed to make changes in their individual lives to stop pollution. That response was exactly what the ad’s creators hoped for: individual action. For the ad was produced not by a campaign to protect the environment but by a campaign to protect the garbage-makers themselves.
Food waste: water pollution, pesticides, destruction of biodiversity
Plastic waste: fossil fuel consumption, plastic pollution into ecosystems
My first thought is that I'd prefer food waste, because the image of "albatross/sea turtle choking on plastic junk" comes to mind. But then again, farming is pretty destructive and invasive too.
The bubble wrap can be seen in a photo in this BBC article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/monthwithoutplastic/2008/08/in_se...
Refillable glass allows for exactly the kind of cross contamination that makes otherwise safe products inedible.
It's called [Tetra pack], and contains both paper, plastic and metal. Physical separation is virtually impossible (at scale), chemical separation is very environment-unfriendly.
Unfortunately in Switzerland it is dumped to trash; in Easter-Europe it is collected for separation though.
And if it's wet, it will destroy the paper.
My understanding is that paper fares better on the litter front, since even the stuff that escapes landfills still degrades quickly, while plastic tends to fare better on the carbon footprint front, because it's lighter (which reduces fuel burned to ship things) and less energy-intensive to manufacture.
Just because someone is smart enough to dig a hole big enough to get trapped in, it doesn't mean that they were smart enough to allow for a way to get out.
I’m not suggesting any one individual attempt to innovate themselves out of a world polluted with plastic without outside help, but I guess digging yourself a 15-foot grave could be construed as one method.
It’s always easier to say why a thing can’t be done than come up with methods of doing a thing and implementing that thing.
I have friends who intentionally restrict the amount of plastic-packaged items they buy, they would struggling to throw out a 200mm cube of tightly bound plastics every month or two; so we know significant reductions in plastic waste are possible on an individual scale.
In the scope of, for example, landing a probe on an asteroid and returning a sample, the engineering challenges facing us in the form of reducing plastic packaging use seem to me, the non-expert, fairly trivial.
I could list some possibilities I, and others, have consider, though they seem to be extensively thrashed out in the comments here and the internet at large.
Was going to the moon, or being able to buy an all electric production vehicle, or the modern microchip, not a mere sentiment at some point?
It seems like the primary lack in this context is the desire for collective action, which appears to be changing.
Perhaps I wildely misunderstood your comment?
Do you mean to imply that when walking the southern coast of Tasmania I don’t see the area densely littered with plastics?
Or perhaps you meant to imply that the oceans aren’t littered with plastic such that cetaceans are dying from eating too much of it?
These don’t sound like arguments anyone would intentionally make.
Are you certain recycling has nothing to do with plastic pollution? And are you certain that recycled or buried, as a binary choice, are the only two possible outcomes for plastics?
We should enforce prioritizing producing garbage that provides nutrition to the things it passes through. Plastics do the opposite, to the extent of killing the animals mistaking it for food.
That's the point. Plastic is cheap to produce but costly to look after. Paper is costly to produce but cheap to look after.
I cannot find the quotation now but a researcher was asked about plastic bags and the environmental impact on them and the point was that it was not as clear as people think. In Sweden almost all plastic bags ends up being burned like this: https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-tech/e...
That is very cheap. And the result would be that the total environmental impact for the complete life cycle might be greater if you choose a paper bag as more energy was required in creating it.
Those countries are so rare that it's almost not worth mentioning. Vast majority of places around the world, including most of the developed world do not have "good waste management" by this definition. Even in countries as rich as UK, Germany and France most waste goes to a landfill, not an incinerator. Sure Sweden shows a good example how it can be done, but it's like dismissing the problem of car-related pollution because there exists one hydrogen car that you can actually buy. Yes, it doesn't have those problems but in the large scheme of things it's completely irrelevant.
All these countries throw less than 5% of their trash into landfills.
Germany throws 0% of their waste into landfills.
Dumping untreated waste into landfills has been illegal in Germany since 2005, so that's not a thing anymore.
How can the packaging industry force companies to order superfluous packaging?
And if it isn't superfluous, getting rid of it might be a net negative?
By strongly opposing any initiative to implement returnable, multi use packaging, coming up with a bunch of plausible reasons why it doesn't work - maybe it's unhygienic, maybe things can't be washed etc etc
Customers as a group were already paying the cost of the garbage, but there was no pressure on the manufacturers to reduce it. Once you make the change then the total cost is the same, but now reducing packaging can improve a manufacturer's profit margin, even if it costs them a tiny bit more to make! This pushes things toward reduced waste, with the total number of [shelf price + garbage harm] dropping by some number of pennies.
 Even if you charge the customer directly, presumably the manufacturer still wants to hit a specific shelf price.
But garbage disposal already costs money, doesn't it? Maybe it doesn't cost enough - but then rising prices for garbage disposal would at least have similar effect to mandating multi use packaging, without the market distortion?
The difference is that garbage disposal is the price for the actual damage that needs to be avoided. Multi use packaging is just an idea for avoiding it, without proof of overall effectiveness.
Itemizing the cost and tying it directly to the product price makes it much more effective as an incentive.
> Maybe it doesn't cost enough - but then rising prices for garbage disposal would at least have similar effect to mandating multi use packaging, without the market distortion?
Yes, that's what I was suggesting. But you need to do it in a way that packaging choice impacts the manufacturer's profit margin as directly as possible.
It's hard to make a case that it was all just trash when somebody was paying for it.
And that's the thing. Recycling everything might be affordable but when skimming the best and tossing the rest is more profitable, operations like that will squeeze out operations that pay some of the high cost of proper disposal. "Externalities are externalities"
Essentially, I think you can make an argument that private enterprise can not do recycling properly since collecting money for taking the junk and then disposing of the junk as cheaply as possible is going to be a better business model. And hiring an agency to watch the private contractors is going to cost less than having a state agency do it themselves. See the company that was paid to recycle all the CRTs from the early 2000s and wound-up just storing them.
Just as much, as recycling exploded, regulations wound-up pandering to upper-middle-class consumers and allow plastic to be marked as recyclable, using unsorted recycling and similar things that kept consumers lazy and ignorant. Of course, this contributed to no real recycling being possible even as a few years it seemed universal.
I'm really glad to be done with those. Ugh. Back around 1970 my dad said the world was waiting for two great inventions:
1. A TV you could hang on the wall like a picture
2. A typewriter that you could back up and correct mistakes on. (Few people likely remember Whiteout. Glad to be done with that, too!)
And great inventions they turned out to be :-)
I remember my Mom typing his thesis over and over on the Royal typewriter. What a boring, dehumanizing task that was.
My dad abandoned his typewriter when he bought a Trash-80. I abandoned my typewriter when I discovered the printer in the computer center at Caltech around 1975. I'd use runoff, a marvelous program that is a precursor to HTML.
I can see a time when we mine garbage dumps for materials.
Anyway, recycling has always been a resource drain to make people feel good. It's definitely better to recapture and contain as much waste as possible, but people don't think about things like how much water is wasted by rinsing all those bottles out.
There is plenty of land for landfills, but for recycling there may always be things that makes sense to recycle and things that just don’t pencil out.
A city like Singapore however uses a lot of plastic and thermocol. I wonder where they find space for their landfills. Probably they are doing the same, exporting all the trash to China or Indonesia.
Maybe the German model. But in the US? It seems unlikely.
- polluted water so we're all injesting micro plastics
- polluted air as the manufacturing is a mess
- increased energy consumption to manufacture "perfect" looking packaging.
These all have real, hard, cash driven consequences that aren't factored into the normal profitability equation.
HN is a community. Users needn't use their real name, but should have some identity for others to relate to. Otherwise we may as well have no usernames and no community, and that would be a different kind of forum. There are legit uses for throwaways, just not routinely.
Lots more explanation: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20community%20identity...
There's an interesting middle ground here which is to let users specify whatever username nobody else has ever used for their posts. Then they can choose to link them to prior posts (or not) as they see fit. It's not clear to me that this prevents having a community, but I'm not sure what the consequences are.
But let's revisit the fact that remote servers cannot see a MAC address.
>I didn’t know you guys kept track of MAC addresses or however else you track this stuff.
Revisit however else.
I'm kind of skeptical about the benefits of recycling certain materials that are so cheap that the operational costs of recycling are much greater than the value saved. This seems to be happening in the article where people are increasingly subsidizing unprofitable recycling programs. As far as I know, it's not an environmental disaster to just dump aluminum, glass, and plastic in a landfill, and it seems cheaper to just produce more of those products from their original materials than to recycle the used materials. Maybe we should take a step back and ask ourselves whether it's worth our time to recycle certain materials.
There is a demand for aluminum and metal, many people make a bit of a living collecting these for money.
The problem with glass is that it has food residue on it. This causes leaching in the landfills.
Farmers need COMPOST! Soil around the world is nearly depleted. We need an efficient way of cleaning out the food particles from food containers, before disposing or recycle, and having those particles end up on farms.
Not to mention the fact that cities have landfill/recycling centers you can drive to and get rid of anything and everything for free.
https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=oil_use (see "petrochemical feedstocks")
I heard other cities doing that. It is interesting in municipalities where people diligently separate their recycling into multiple streams, everything neatly going into a separate bins and so on, and then it all goes and gets dumped in the landfill.
That says something about human psychology. People need to engage in this ritual because it makes them feel better. They might say to themselves "I am separating my glass, from metal, from plastic, I am saving the environment! I feel good about myself". The economy doesn't work out in the end, but nobody dares to tell the people that, so they happily continue to sort their trash. It's kind of a dystopian win-win situation.
If you'd like to think in terms of software, it's like they had bought into the microservices trend year back, then migrated back to a monolith underneath but still left stateless microservices APIs and shims running on Docker containers spread throughout just so they can claim somewhere they still do "microservices" and feel good about themselves.
The solution is twofold.
1) we can do better now at separating waste using AI and robotics. Instead of having 3 or 4 bins at home where we toss things based on our mood, gut feeling, or simply which bin is the least full; a robot could confidently be sorting waste into hundreds of buckets. And unlike humans they'd get it mostly right. Waste becomes a resource when you treat it properly. There are some places where former land fill sites are being mined for precious materials. This stuff is not worthless anymore.
2) Price for disposal needs to be part of the deal when selling a product. E.g. disposal cost for e.g. washing machines is part of the sales price in some countries. They take back the old one when you buy a new one. Already payed for when you bought it. Also, super convenient to not have to do that yourself.
Sorting action in https://youtu.be/X_1sOPqM_VA
You also could return older, non-deposit containers at the beginning. This spurred me and my friends to clean every roadside and field within reach of our bikes. For a month we made more money than we had known in our entire lives. Then it was over and a valuable lesson was learned.
There also are mandatory recycling quotas.
It'd be a little safer if they could just pick through recycling bins, but that's illegal  so they are forced to pick through trash bins.
Going more frequently with smaller amounts would pay more but waste more time... and I estimated that it didn't make sense to do so unless you valued the cost of the trip at less than about $1.
- There are no special regulations for multi-way bottles (glass and plastic alike). Most stores will accept only those they are incentivized to, i.e. the brands they sell (manufacturers are eager to get them back to be able to reuse them).
- As soon as a store sells a kind of one-way container (plastic bottles, aluminum cans), they have to accept, pay out the mandatory €0.25 deposit for, and properly dispose of each and every one-way container of that kind customers bring in (in household quantities). There is a clearing mechanism, since store's sales might not match their returns.
So, for example, if law allowed only for a small number of different container types (to turn them into a commodity) and then taxed production of those containers heavily, what exactly would happen?
Naively, one would expect companies to cut costs by buying second-hand containers rather than buying expensive new ones.
That would create a market for used containers. For an ordinary person it would be very much like deposit: Buy stuff with the price of container included, then sell the container to get back the money.
It would, obviously, provide a new way to cheat: Produce new containers and sell them as used ones, thus avoiding the tax. But that's just a tax avoidance trick and could be dealt with using the existing anti-tax-avoidance mechanisms.
It would be interesting to know what would be the unintended consequences of such a law.
For other and broken glass items there are glass containers pretty much everywhere, broken up by color (white glass, brown glass, green glass). Plastics delivered by consumers are separated but never recycled.
According to official figures about 51% of plastics are recycled, 38% is burned .
Recycling will never be the greatest of businesses. However the scale of demand in a country as large as the US is extraordinary. 5% margins at $100 billion in sales is ultimately a giant, $60-$80 billion market cap business. That's the kind of opportunity this presents for an enterprise that can quickly move to be the solution to the post China recycling problem.
Edit: I know you are not supposed to ask about downvotes but I have no idea why this got downvoted. This would finally be an application of AI that benefits mankind instead of more surveillance for ads.
Wanna help the environment? Reduce consumption overall.
Arguably Refuse and Repurpose are derivative, but I still like calling them out.
"Refuse" sounds like you're just repeating the point of Reduce (=> Reduce consumption). And "Repurpose" is exactly the same as "Reuse".
I'd like to see far more internalisation of full sourcing, energy, and sink costs, as that's ultimately the most effective way to shift usage patterns, though this seems unlikely.
Make whatever changes in your life you want, "every little bit helps", but remember that individual willpower and grit is taking a cup of water out of an ocean. You don't change the tide that way, you need to recognize the importance of political action to see the situation improve.
For everyone who goes vegetarian instead of attending town halls or petitioning their representatives or staying home from protesting business waste they are missing the forest for the trees on what matters in environmentalism.
Agriculture, manufacturing, and resource extraction all exist to serve consumerism society.
Our personal individual contributions might be just a tiny slice of it, but aggregated individual contributions are 100% of the problem.
Society is us.
I think that getting all these older managers on board with working from home as much as you can may be a colossal savings on all fronts.
Was the temperature ramp-up from 1980-2019 a delayed reaction? Or due to emerging nations getting industrialized?
Also, if we compare 1980 to today, or even 2010, it's like the stone age re: production and consumption.
Population was just 4.4B -- now it's 7.7, almost double.
Large swaths were in far more dire poverty and much less consumption. Chinese industrial production was not a thing -- now it's the biggest industrial site in the world. The whole of USSR and Eastern Europe were communist (and would be for 10 years still).
And even Americans consumed much much less than today. Consider how little gadgets and stuff the average person had in 1980. Even clothes were much more valued than today's "quick fashion". Malls where just starting to be built everywhere (now the world's a big mall, and the internet can deliver to your door in the next day, so they aren't even needed).
US production here shows more than double too: https://www.macrotrends.net/2583/industrial-production-histo...
tl;dr: the effectiveness of vegetarian diets is dependent on local conditions. Vegetarianism in a globalized world relies on fossil-fuel-based transport or farming techniques.
Somehow we started with recycling plastics programs (perhaps industry manipulation) which is a complicated mess. Where I live, they still can't recycle black plastics so they end up in the landfill anyway. The these latest developments, I am sure if we actually looked, we would find out that there are provinces in China making a fortune importing recyclables that actually just went straight to a landfill. Of course, now they have decades of trash to contend with. Meanwhile we can all sit pretty thinking about how wonderful we were for separating our recyclables.
Still our recycling bin fills faster than our "trash" due to packaging.
I also make eco bricks out of any plastic bags or plastic wrappers.
In Germany, I now get everything in single use paper bags as the default, if I don't intervene, which I see as worse environmental impact, the then few grams of plastic bags we had before.
As long as you have a closed system, with near 100% waste caputure, no plastic should end up in the wild when accountability is enforced through all waste management transactions.
So I'm still not shure, how this whole garbage patch topic connects to consumer policies in countries with working closed disposal systems, is this just activism to distract from inability to control the systemic issues here?