The recycling recession

Not good.


A joint report by the trade groups American Chemistry Council and Association of Plastic Recyclers estimated that plastic bottle recycling decreased 3.6 percent last year, dipping to 2.8 billion pounds in 2017. The decrease is partially due to containers becoming lighter weight, but also because the rate of bottle recycling hasn’t grown significantly in recent years.

In “an exceedingly difficult year for plastic bottle recycling,” the report said, about 29.3 percent of plastic bottles were recycled in 2017, down about a half percentage point from a year earlier. Over the past five years, the rate of plastic bottle recycling has remained essentially flat.

“Americans are continuing to recycle and recycling behavior continues to grow, however there is also more material continuing to go into waste stream and plastics are growing,” said Steve Russell, vice president of the plastics division of American Chemistry Council, which represents chemical and plastic makers.

The report is here. A big part of the problem is China scaling way back on the recyclable materials it accepts, which has created an oversupply problem even as the recycling rate has stagnated. There needs to be more capacity for recycling in the US to deal with this. Getting people to do recycling properly – basic things like not throwing trash in recycling bins, for example – would also help. It’s a big deal, because there’s already way too much plastic waste in the environment, and that has all kinds of bad effects. We need to figure this out.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Technology, science, and math and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The recycling recession

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    It would help if the City picked up the recycle bins, I will try again this coming Tuesday to see if the pick it up.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    ” Getting people to do recycling properly – basic things like not throwing trash in recycling bins, for example – would also help.”

    While I understand the sentiment, and support it, that’s not realistic. There are plenty of native cultures here that not only won’t bother to recycle properly, they refuse to even put trash in trash cans. Add to that the teeming masses of illegal aliens here whose culture is also not compatible with recycling or proper trash disposal. Legal immigrants are a mixed bag, some coming from cultures where recycling and proper trash disposal are not valued, and some coming from cultures where those things are valued.

    Combine all that together and you’ve got an average recycling participation that is lower than other places, and a recycling stream that is going to be more contaminated, and thus, less usable and less valuable than other places.

    Recycling is really just a feel good program for virtue signaling homeowners. What do you think happens with the trash at Houston’s ubiquitous apartment complexes? No recycling there.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill you can’t help yourself, I guess that was the illegal whites trashing our National Parks?

  4. Jules says:

    What a bunch of racist bullshit.

  5. Mainstream says:

    The City of Houston has recently been irregular in picking up recycling in my neighborhood. Mayor Turner should be aware that residents are grumbling that he is incapable of providing even basic city services.

  6. Jules says:

    The recycling schedule is a joke. The city should suspend again until it can pick up the recycling on schedule. Having the green cans out all the time is getting old.

  7. C.L. says:

    “…teeming masses of illegal aliens here whose culture is also not compatible with recycling or proper trash disposal.”

    Holy Cow, Bill. That’s pretty low, even by your standards. I urge you to perform a simple search for ‘trashy front yards in West Virginia’ (which is hardly of hotbed of illegal aliens (unless they’ve been enlisted to work in the coal mines)) to see how disinterested these folks appear to be in recycling or proper refuse disposal.

  8. Manny Barrera says:

    Turner needs to pay attention to things like that, right now with two Republicans including one that raised millions for Trump, the decision is easy, Turner.

  9. Bill Daniels says:

    Manny and Jules,

    I’d just note that nowhere in my opinion about the viability of recycling in Houston did I mention race….only YOU guys did. Think about that. You’re so consumed with identity politics that you see EVERYTHING through the prism of race. Shouldn’t you be looking for that white man in the red truck?

    What cultures in Houston have problems with proper trash disposal? What neighborhoods? Where is the bulk of the illegal dumping problem happening? There are many cultures that trash Houston and fail to recycle properly, and they encompass subsets of many racial groups.

    Do you disagree with my assessment of the situation? Kuff lays out that your recycling stream is heavily contaminated and thus, virtually worthless. I explained to you why that is. If you disagree, please state your theories about why the CoH recycling is so contaminated with trash.


  10. Bill Daniels says:


    Congratulations! Your Google-fu has discovered a culture in another state that fails to value proper disposal of trash and recycling. That doesn’t conflict with anything I have said. Certain cultures don’t care about proper trash disposal and recycling. Maybe use that Google-fu to find cultures in Houston that don’t care about proper trash disposal. I’ll wait.

  11. Jules says:

    My bad, I left off xenophobic, misogynistic, ignorant contaminated trash.

  12. Manny Barrera says:

    ” Add to that the teeming masses of illegal aliens here whose culture is also not compatible with recycling or proper trash disposal”

    Only Bill does not see that as racism or bigotry. Well add millions of Trump supporters to that list.

  13. C.L. says:

    Oh Bill…. you blew the whistle. Go ahead and own it at this point.

  14. Bill Daniels says:


    What is it you want me to own? My hate facts? The fact that certain cultures are incompatible with properly disposing of trash, and incapable or unwilling to recycle properly? OK, I own that hate fact. Have a cookie!

    Kuff correctly laid out the problem….too much shit in the recycling stream. Why is that? You only have two choices here:

    1) Many cultures in Houston are just too stupid to understand how recycling works.


    2) Many cultures in Houston understand how recycling works, but just flat out don’t give a shit.

    These cultures don’t buy into your ‘green revolution’ argument. They don’t even care enough to recycle properly. And you think these same cultures are going to go along with $ 7/gal. gas like they have in France?

    YOUR aging hippie, pot smoking, granola culture may be accepting and supportive of recycling, and more generally, keeping Houston tidy and neat, as well as saving the planet, but there are other cultures here that don’t hold those same views. But hey, I’m the bad guy for actually saying what we all can see is true. Alrighty then.


    STILL waiting for you to tell us all why YOU think Houston can’t recycle properly.

  15. Bill Daniels says:


    Have you ever seen pictures of the trashy nightmare mess your sparks of divinity leave as they sneak into the US in places where we have no wall? Did you not see the huge messes left by the migrant caravan all throughout Mexico? Are you trying to tell us that THAT culture is going to sneak on by La Migra, get to our sanctuary city, and then start recycling properly? You’re going to say that with a straight face? LOL!

  16. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill, I have and I have seen the white people and others do the same, you are just full of hate. If you see one person do it, they all do it.

    It is no different than my saying all white males are vicious mass murders, I have seen that, also.

    In my neighborhood there are numerous white families that are as bad or worse than the culture that you mention. Them white folks are born here in this country.

    I suggest you go visit Italy or Greece, or some other nice European Country to see how clean they are.

  17. Manny Barrera says:

    Following is a link to the 50 cleanest cities in the world, guess what the 4 cities that are in the United States is full of people of that culture that you hate.

    So no Bill, you are so full of hate that you cannot form a rational opinion, as that culture.

  18. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill, why not leave trash cans for them to live the waste? Have you seen what the white people have done to the oceans?

  19. Bill Daniels says:


    From YOUR OWN CNN link about Greece:

    “So dire is the situation that a group of city activists who work under the banner “Roma Fa Schifo” (Rome is Disgusting) chronicle the degradation on a website and Twitter feed with more than 150,000 followers.
    This city is also lately filled with migrants who suffer from a recent backlash that is pushing right-wing anti-immigration parties to the forefront ahead of Sunday’s elections.
    Rome has no official center for migrants waiting for word on their political asylum requests, so many camp out near the main train station or settle in any number of shanty towns that have sprung up along the banks of the city’s Tiber River.

    In January, CNN visited an abandoned multi-story university building known to its inhabitants as the Selam Palace, where nearly 1,000 Ethiopian, Eritrean and Somali refugees who have been granted legal refugee status squat illegally because the city can’t find legitimate housing. There are more than 50 other abandoned office buildings just like it throughout the city.”

    Whoopsie! The city is filled with 3rd World migrant squatters who have trashed it! Far right political parties are pushing back. Familiar story.

    From your Guardian article:

    “David Sedaris, who lives in Sussex and has admitted to obsessively picking up litter for five hours a day, claimed poorer people who shop at Tesco were more likely to drop litter then wealthier shoppers who go to Waitrose.

    “I don’t see opera tickets in the street. There’s a Waitrose supermarkert near where I live [yet] I found just one Waitrose bag last year. There’s also a Metro Tesco store and I find Tesco bags all the time. It’s fast foods and candy bars and crisps.

    “I find more Mayfair cigarettes than any other brand. Are they not the cheapest? I’m not trying to sound like a snob but if you walk down a mile of road and take everything you find there’s no denying the things you find.

    “Maybe people [in deprived areas] are throwing things out of their car windows as a way of saying ‘screw you. I don’t live here’.”

    Sedaris told the communities and local government committee Britain was like a trash can. “You have to go deep into eastern Europe to find it so bad. I have never seen anything like this in Japan or France. It’s obviously a cultural problem.”

    Hmm, even the English guy recognizes that it’s a cultural problem. Hey, wait…maybe THIS Guardian piece explains that:

    “Immigration is regarded by the public as the biggest issue facing British society, a major new survey taking stock of the state of the country reveals.

    One in three people believes tension between immigrants and people born in the UK is the major cause of division, while well over half regard it as one of the top three causes.”

  20. Bill Daniels says:


    Your 50 cleanest cities include Houston and Chicago! Was the author of that puff-puff-passing with C.L.? You really want to hold up Houston as a clean city for the world to emulate? I mean, come on, it’s like you aren’t even trying.

  21. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill you are not a rational person, your hate does not allow it. I am assuming that you can be rational, but I could be wrong.

    The article only proves that there bigots and racists are in Greece also.

    The Native Americans used to see the whites as filthy compared to them, they were.

    I will no longer discuss this topic with someone that cannot see what a racist and or bigot he is.

  22. robert says:

    Recycling isn’t simple, that’s the problem. From schedules that make no sense to instructions on what can be recycled. All plastic isn’t treated the same…’s complicated and many people (of all races/nationalities) give up.

    When I ran for city council, Police, flooding & drainage followed by recycling was #3 on my list of priorities for the city.

    Even though I left years ago, I still read this blog to keep apprised of what’s going on in Houston. Also to see if Bill is able to keep up to Trump in his hate and ignorance or people not like him. Thankfully Jules usually weighs in with rationale.

  23. Pingback: Another look at the state of recycling – Off the Kuff

Comments are closed.