Forget the Green New Deal being too expensive to be realistic. The reality is current recycling programs are too costly to function efficiently and are being abandoned by cities across the United States, according to The New York Times.
"The sooner we accept the economic impracticality of recycling, the sooner we can make serious progress on addressing the plastic pollution problem," Last Beach Cleanup engineer Jan Dell told the Times.
The report cited Philadelphia, Memphis, and Sunrise and Deltona, Florida, as cities that have been forced to curb recycling programs over cost concerns.
"We are in a crisis moment in the recycling movement right now," California state treasurer Fiona Ma told the Times.
Part of the problem, per the Times, is China has stopped being a prime buyer of recycling waste.
"Recycling has been dysfunctional for a long time," nonprofit Recycle Across America Executive Director Mitch Hedlund told the Times. "But not many people really noticed when China was our dumping ground."
A large part of the problem is Americans are attempting to recycle too much stuff, putting too much waste and trash in with the recycling, which China as cited amid its drawdown of buying recycling waste, according to the report. With less buyers, recycling and waste companies are being forced to charge cities more for the service.
"Amid the soaring costs, cities and towns are making hard choices about whether to raise taxes, cut other municipal services or abandon an effort that took hold during the environmental movement of the 1970s," the Times reported.
One municipality in Sunrise, Florida, has turned to burning the recycled waste and turning it into energy, per the report.
"It's not what most people think of as recycling, but it is better than the alternative," Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan told the Times.
Philadelphia has resorted to burning some of waste at an incinerator to turn it into reusable energy, too, albeit temporarily.
"Residents say, 'You are taking all our recycling efforts, and you are burning it?'" Philadelphia's Streets Commissioner Carlton Williams told the Times. "They hear the word 'burn' and they think it is an environmental disaster."
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