Sen. Udall, New Mexico moving to reduce plastic pollution

Japan recycles nearly 100% of her glass but the United Snakes has thousands of mountains of glass cullet from the municipal waste stream just waiting to be repurposed.

After my 1997 vision at Orman Dam, a quest for redemption overtook me. I pursued numerous concepts nearly simultaneously including a recycling initiative that would look much like Rapid City's Material Recovery Facility does today but would have been based in Lead where the mining infrastructure vacated by Homestake's closure would have been adapted. Metals, paper, plastics, glass, the whole schmear, but the Janklow administration, right?

It takes trucks, tub grinders and balers dedicated to specific materials on a regional scale. There should be a kitchen appliance that turns plastic packaging back into petroleum for use as a stove fuel. We sell millions of tons of salvage material to India and Asia to be recycled while tearing up our own ground mining for virgin minerals while steel, and plastics that could be fuel or added to asphalt, are buried in landfills.

In my home state of South Dakota the Socialist People's Republic of Brookings began the process of banning single-use plastic bags since at least 2016. In Canada, Goodwood Plastic Products Ltd. harvests shopping bags, food containers and peanut butter jars from the municipal waste stream then turns that material into synthetic lumber, wharf timbers, guardrail posts and agricultural posts. Sweden and the European Union generate electricity through waste-to-energy technology at some four hundred sites but here in the US there are only 77 such generators. In 1997 I tried to get Rapid City to build a waste-to-energy facility to do this and now its landfill is out of space. In 2011 I lobbied Huron, South Dakota to build a recycling hub.
Sen. Tom Udall is focusing attention on one of the biggest problems of our time — curbing plastic pollution around the globe. His proposed legislation, the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act of 2020, is designed to go beyond individual action and put the muscle of the federal government behind finding solutions to this scourge. With House co-sponsor Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., the legislation seeks to move responsibility for solving the plastic crisis from individuals to the producers of such products. Santa Fe has banned single-use plastic bags. In fact, less than 8 percent of U.S. plastic waste is actually recycled. [Santa Fe New Mexican]
Photo: glass sculpture at Tinkertown Museum near Sandia Park, New Mexico.

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