Why Do We Throw Out 70 Percent of Our Plastic Waste?

Maybe a single bottle isn’t so inconsequential after all.

Image via Flickr user Peter Kaminski (cc).

Like a lot of Americans, you probably purchase the occasional product in a plastic container, then put forth a good effort to toss it in a blue recycling bin once you’re done. Yet that action can sometimes feel inconsequential. What difference does a single bottle or milk container here or there really make?

According to the research, quite a lot, actually. Recycling decreases content in landfills, generates jobs, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It is among the most effective ways to keep plastic out of our waterways—and eventually, the ocean.

Yet only approximately 30 percent of all plastic is recycled in the United States today. For there to be a marked improvement in recycling rates—meaning the percent of plastic waste that is converted back into a reusable material—governments, manufacturers, consumers, and corporations all have important roles to play. That includes organizations like Arrowhead® Brand Mountain Spring Water, the leading branded bottled water company in California..

Dave Thorpe
​Supply Chain Director, Arrowhead

“We believe that individuals, companies and municipalities all play a part in recycling. Whether that’s cities providing easy access to recycling, companies replacing virgin plastic with recycled content, or everyone pitching in at home through curbside recycling or bins in businesses, airports, or parks,” explains Dave Thorpe, Arrowhead Brand Mountain Spring Water’s director of supply chain. As a leading beverage brand in California, Arrowhead works to make good on Thorpe’s observation. The company employs 1,600 people across California as part of Nestlé Waters North America, and strives to be a responsible member of the plastic and the packaging economy at large.

“The Arrowhead brand has been part of the California community for over 120 years, and our experience teaches us that careful stewardship is the best way to prepare for the future, not only of our company, but for the conservation of California’s precious resources,” adds Thorpe. One way the company does this is by focusing on bottle innovation. Over the last twenty years, it has significantly reduced the amount of total plastic used in its Arrowhead bottles. A few months ago, the Arrowhead brandbegan expanding the use of recycled plastic across all sizes of single serve bottles. “We’ve reduced the weight and amount of plastic in our bottles by 60 percent since 2007, and we are using more recycled content in our bottles. These steps have a measurable impact on reducing our production of greenhouse gases and reducing the amount of plastic in landfills,” says Thorpe.

For the Arrowhead brand, expanding its use of recycled plastic is a huge first step on the way to contributing to a true “closed loop” system—a scenario in which plastic bottles do not contribute to the plastic waste problem because they are used again and again to make new bottles. This is also known as “bottle-to-bottle” recycling. “You drop it into a bin, it gets picked up and sent to a facility like CarbonLite, one of the largest recyclers of PET [a key material in plastic bottles] in the world, and made into a bottle again,” explains Thorpe. And he is optimistic about the future. “I look forward to a day in the future where we are able to use 75 to 80 percent recycled content,” he says.

Still, manufacturers’ use of recycled plastic is only one important component of the equation. To increase recycling rates, there needs to be improvements in education and awareness, making it clear to the general public that plastic is recyclable, while encouraging both consumers and companies to make sure recyclable plastic actually ends up where it belongs, in blue bins or the appropriate slot in curbside containers. Out-of-home recycling bins need to become a municipal priority, and there should be more incentives for companies to embrace recycled plastic as a packaging material. A true closed loop isn’t just about the first half of the process—pick up and handling to control litter. It’s also about giving packaging a second life. “We want consumers to understand that this packaging is not a waste, but a resource for the next bottle.”

Thorpe is optimistic that a movement is underway to help give plastic a second life. “We’re always looking for ways to make our consumers’ lives better, whether that’s making water easier to drink on-the-go or promoting calorie-free options to sugary drinks. And we want to lead the way to collaborative problem solving—from continued development of environmentally sensitive packaging, support for convenient, universally available recycling, to partnerships to restore local watersheds.”

So maybe that single bottle isn’t so inconsequential after all. If we all take responsibility for our own actions, whether as individuals or as corporations, we can become part of a movement that makes a big impact.

via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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