Is the recycling business model fundamentally broken since most of our waste isn’t recycled?
Recycling actually works very well when the business equation is favorable, as it often is for paper, cardboard, aluminum, and some plastics. But, as we’ve seen, that’s not the case for many other items. And what’s accepted for recycling varies from location to location, depending on factors such as community size and distance to end markets for materials (both of which affect a recycler’s profitability).
That’s why recycling is not a silver bullet solution to the waste crisis. However, it’s still an incredibly important part of moving toward a circular economy, in which we eliminate waste through reuse, repair, remanufacture, and recycling.
Recycling has major environmental benefits (it reduces the need to extract virgin materials from the planet and prevents trash from being landfilled or littered), and it also allows valuable material to be reused in new products instead of sitting in landfills or being incinerated.
The only real solution to the waste crisis is for all of us to buy less and purchase durable, reusable items instead of disposable ones.