Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center
Across the United States , our recycling system is faltering. Local governments from Jackson, Mississippi to Sierra Vista, Arizona are ending their curbside recycling programs. Many other municipalities have reduced the list of materials they will accept. 2 3 Even when recycling does end up in a blue bin, it may be immediately landfilled or burned –until earlier this year roughly half of Philadelphia’s collected recycling was being sent to incinerators. 4 These are not isolated incidents but are increasingly our new normal. What went wrong? Why are we moving backwards on recycling, an important tool for fighting environmental pollution and climate change? And why is plastic to blame?
This report discusses the state of recycling across the nation as well as in North Carolina. It looks at the decline of international recycling markets as well as the onging strucutal issues and the consequences of our weak recycling systems. This report dives into the state findings over the 2016-2017 fiscal year sand discusses the soultions that exist.