In the past year, a number of environmental organizations have filed lawsuits seeking to combat misleading claims of recyclability by major corporations. Environmental groups have also criticized plans by the oil and gas industry to expand its production of petrochemicals, which are the main building blocks of plastic, because the process is highly polluting and creates new demand for fossil fuels.
The recycling symbol is “subconsciously telling the people buying things, ‘You’re environmentally friendly,’” said Heidi Sanborn, the executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council, which advocates corporations to shoulder more responsibility for recycling their products.
“Nobody should be able to lie to the public,” she said.
In California, the bill won the backing of a coalition of environmental groups, local governments, waste haulers and recyclers. Recycling companies say the move will help them cut down on the non-recyclable trash thrown in recycling bins that needs to be transported, sorted and sent to the landfill.
Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the country’s largest waste and recycling companies, said in an interview that more than a fifth of the material his company processes nationwide is non-recyclable garbage. That means that even on its best day, Republic is running at only 80 percent efficiency, processing materials it shouldn’t be processing, he said.