It’s a basic truth-in-advertising concept. We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they’re going to be recycled, but actually, they’re heading straight to the landfill. — California State Senator Ben Allen
It’s a basic truth-in-advertising concept. We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they’re going to be recycled, but actually, they’re heading straight to the landfill. — California State Senator Ben Allen

The recycling symbol is subconsciously telling the people buying things, 'You’re environmentally friendly'. Nobody should be able to lie to the public. — Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director at the National Stewardship Action Council
The recycling symbol is subconsciously telling the people buying things, 'You’re environmentally friendly'. Nobody should be able to lie to the public. — Heidi Sanborn, Executive Director at the National Stewardship Action Council

There are a lot of products in the marketplace today that have the chasing arrows that shouldn’t. There aren’t really any true end markets, or any real way to recover and ultimately recycle those materials in curbside programs. — Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services
There are a lot of products in the marketplace today that have the chasing arrows that shouldn’t. There aren’t really any true end markets, or any real way to recover and ultimately recycle those materials in curbside programs. — Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services

California Aims to Ban Recycling Symbols on Things That Aren’t Recyclable
The triangular “chasing arrows” recycling symbol is everywhere: On disposable cups. On shower curtains. On children’s toys.

What a lot of shoppers might not know is that any product can display the sign, even if it isn’t recyclable. It’s false advertising, critics say, and as a result, countless tons of non-recyclable garbage are thrown in the recycling bin each year, choking the recycling system.

Late on Wednesday, California took steps toward becoming the first state to change that. A majority of the state’s assembly members voted to ban companies from using the arrows symbol unless they can prove the material is in fact recycled in most California communities, and is used to make new products.

“It’s a basic truth-in-advertising concept,” said California State Senator Ben Allen, a Democrat and the bill’s lead sponsor. “We have a lot of people who are dutifully putting materials into the recycling bins that have the recycling symbols on them, thinking that they’re going to be recycled, but actually, they’re heading straight to the landfill,” he said.

... Though materials like paper or metals are widely recycled, less than 10 percent of plastic consumed in the United States is recycled, according to the most recent estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead, most plastic is incinerated or dumped in landfills, with the exception of some types of resins, like the kind used for bottled water or soda.


For years, the United States also shipped much of its plastic waste overseas, choking local rivers and streams. A global convention now bans most trade in plastic waste, though U.S. waste exports have not completely ceased.

... 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.

... 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.

Some of the most common forms of non-recyclable trash marring operations at Republic’s 70 facilities across the United States, which processes six million tons of curbside recycling a year: snack pouches, plastic film, grocery bags and packing material. Plastic bags, in particular, can’t be recycled in most curbside recycling programs and notoriously gum up recycling machines.

“There are a lot of products in the marketplace today that have the chasing arrows that shouldn’t” Mr. Keller said. “There aren’t really any true end markets, or any real way to recover and ultimately recycle those materials in curbside programs.”


... Environmental groups said that strengthening government oversight is critical. “It’s the wild, wild West of product claims and labeling with no sheriff in town,” Jan Dell, an engineer and founder of The Last Beach Cleanup, an environmental organization, wrote in an email.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/08/climate/arrows-recycling-symbol-california.html