What Happens to Your Plastics After They Leave Your Curb?

Jenny Connell March 6, 2022

Years ago I read an article in Macleans magazine that exposed recycling as merely a myth. 

It changed my life. 

After spending countless hours washing, removing labels and sorting my plastics for curb side recycling I confidently believed that after I waved goodbye to the dump truck these carefully sorted items were on their way to become the next shopping bag or park bench.  

I was so very wrong.  

Since then I have seen multiple documentaries and read countless articles sounding the same alarm.  

One horrifying statistic stands out.  Since its major production and popularization in the 1950s, only 9% of plastic has actually been recycled. 

So one must ask, where does it all go? 

According to the CBC documentary ‘Plastic Wars’, for a long time it was simply exported and shipped to Southeast Asia but a 2019 UN environmental programme called The Basel Convention imposed severe restrictions on the export of plastic to developing countries, resulting in a lot of our plastics ending up in Turkey, other Eastern European countries or piling up in our own landfills/oceans. 

Experts warn that plastic production has more than doubled in the last 30 years due to convenience and the elusive myth that it can be infinitely recycled.

This idea has been carefully marketed to us by industries whose main objective is to sell MORE and produce MORE.  Many suggest that the recycling symbol itself always was, and still is, nothing more than a marketing tool. 

According to the Science History Institute, even if plastics are considered recyclable, they need to have new virgin plastics added each time to make them strong enough to be used.  Each time a plastic is recycled it’s polymer chain shortens, therefore decreasing the quality. 

Basically, it’s very difficult to not have a feeling of doom and gloom when it comes time to grocery shop or purchase staples at the drug store. 

Unfortunately our society has become completely dependent on modern plastics.  It’s not fully realistic to think that we can erase them from our existence although we can cut back and I’ll save you the speech about bags, straws and coffee cups because I’m sure you’ve heard it before. 

 Working as a nurse I see that it would be virtually impossible to eradicate single use plastics from the healthcare environment as we rely on these items to ensure sterility and cost effectiveness.  That said, perhaps it’s time the collective “we” began to consider bioplastics and truly biodegradable plastics a necessity instead of a luxury. 

The pandemic sure hasn’t done us any favours with cutting back and the need to deal with our plastic misuse and over-production is more pertinent than it has ever been.  

We could start talking about micro-plastic pollution here but that’s a topic for another blog. 

For now, let’s support industries and companies who are making an innovative effort to reshape the way we produce and reuse plastics in the modern world. 










Written by Unwrapped Kawartha

Leave a comment